In the Spotlight

News & Features
CTC releases new design
By Marianne Combs
Minnesota Public Radio
March 18, 2002

The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis has released the designs for its planned expansion. The new theater space would give the CTC a second performance hall as well as several more classrooms. But in order for the CTC to expand, it needs the state Legislature to grant $12 million in bonding.

The perspective view of the Children's Theater Company along Third Avenue n Minneapolis. See larger image.
(Photo courtesy of the Children's Theatre Company)

The Children's Theatre Company has been working out of its current building for 30 years, during which time it has never made any significant renovations.

Managing Director Teresa Eyring says over the years the CTC has grown to serve approximately 350,000 children and parents from all over the state, with stage productions as well as classes. She says expanding the building is essential to the continued health of the theater company.

"Right now we have major education programs; a conservatory program that has 800-1,000 enrollments a year. We turn away half the kids that apply for that program and part of the reason is space; we don't have dedicated classroom space," according to Eyring.

Architect Michael Graves designed an extension on two sides of the building, creating a colorful, playful facade while also expanding the CTC's classroom and rehearsal space.

The new design gives CTC a prominent front entrance separate from its current entrance, shared with the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts. Graves says he wanted to convey a sense of the playfulness and artistry that surrounds the theater.

Architect Michael Graves says he wanted to convey "a sense of the playfulness and artistry that surrounds the theater."
(Photo: Childrens' Theatre Company)

"If you think about the old Vic and some of the great theaters, there's a sense of arrival, there's a sense of drama, there's a sense of the performance itself and even one of the most important things - the practice. The getting there is so important and wanting to come to this place because it is such a joy to do so," Graves said.

Artistic Director Peter Brosius says he's thrilled and excited by Graves' new design. He says while the current building has served the theater company well, its flat white walls don't convey the energy and creativity contained within, "and I think what Michael has done by opening it up with so many windows, by breaking up the singularity of that long white wall with a different sense of building, it'll give a sense of context. It'll add color, it'll add life and it will animate the neighborhood," he said.

The Children's Theatre Company has also announced it is the recipient of a $700,000 grant from the Leila Wallace Readers' Digest Fund. Currently the CTC serves children primarily between the ages of 5 and 12. Brosius says the grant will allow the CTC to develop a love of the arts in toddlers, as well as children who have outgrown its current programming.

In conjunction with the grant, the new design for the expansion includes a "flexible theater" dedicated primarily to work for and by teenagers.

The Children's Theatre Company raised $9 million from private sources, but needs a total of $24 million to complete the expansion, half of which it has requested from the state Legislature.

Managing Director Teresa Eyring says she hopes the state sees its way to investing and preserving what is both a regional and national treasure.

"Often people will say to us, 'Oh you mean there's not one of these in every city?' No, there's not. There's not a children's theater company like this Children's Theatre Company anywhere and in that respect it's something that the people of Minnesota have invested in over the years, have made it what it is. It would be a shame if the state did not find the way to invest in it, to keep it going for another 38 years," Eyring said.

Eyring says if the state grants the Children's Theatre Company the money it needs, it could begin its renovation as early as this summer.

More from MPR
  • Session 2002 Issue Briefing: Bonding