Playwrights’ Center planning move to south St. Anthony Park

By Scott Carlson

The Minneapolis-based Playwrights’ Center is expected to unveil in mid-February detailed plans on relocating to 710 Raymond Ave. in south St. Anthony Park.

The Center’s intentions follow news of the artistic theatrical nonprofit winning a $4 million federal grant that will lift it past the halfway point in fundraising for its relocation and expansion, according to a joint press statement from Minnesota U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum.

Officials at the Playwrights’ Center said the federal funding “will allow us to open the doors both literally and figuratively.”

This funding is expected to be used for the redesign and renovation of the Playwrights’ Center.

“The exponential increasing demand for Playwrights’ Center’s services is driving our plan to build a visionary new art center,” said Christopher Bineham, advancement director at the Playwrights’ Center.

“Our new home, at 710 Raymond Ave., will preserve and renovate the oldest part of the currently existing building and replace the other parts of the structure.”

Founded in 1971, the Playwrights’ Center supports playwrights and promotes new plays to production at theaters across the country. Its planned move from 2301 East Franklin Ave. to Raymond Avenue will put it in the heart of south St. Anthony Park’s Creative Enterprise Zone.

“Having this national and internationally known center in the Zone will build the reputation of the area as a center for creativity and storytelling,’’ said Angela Casselton, executive director of the Creative Enterprise Zone. “It will strengthen our reputation as a growing cultural hub.”

Casselton said her organization introduced Playwrights’ Center officials to the CEZ several years ago and encouraged them to relocate there.

Bineham said the work of the Center includes new play development and connecting playwrights and theatermakers to the theater industry across the country and around the globe, encouraging production of new plays and cultivating partnerships with theaters.

“The Center supports playwrights at all stages of their creative journey — from first-timers to Pulitzer Prize winners — through individualized resources and generous fellowships, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to playwrights annually,” Bineham said.

“We then strategically develop and channel new plays into the hands of the country’s leading theaters and most vital audiences. Through our revolutionary support, the national average for new plays to evolve from page to stage — seven years — is slashed in half.

“Theaters and audiences across the country are eager for new work from daring, diverse voices,” he added. “Playwrights are hungry for the support and connections that will launch their stories. Playwrights’ Center stands at the epicenter, serving the needs of all to build a stronger cultural ecosystem and a better, brighter world.” 

Scott Carlson is managing editor of the Bugle.

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