A newcomer discovers the Twin Cities’ arts scene


I would like to take this opportunity to invite you to one of the many things that make this, Twin Cities, a sweet home away from home for many of us: the arts.

It’s a fact, yard or mile-for-mile when it comes to the arts, Minneapolis is second only to New York City. With the Ordway and many other performance and gallery spaces, St. Paul is not bad either. You only need to look at the top of the charts to know many stars first had their shine right here in Minnesota.

Before he became the little man that rocks heels better than most females, Prince was rocking the stage at Capri Theatre in North Minneapolis. And what rock star saw Purple Rain and not want to perform at First Avenue? (And many have.) Bob Dylan, too, horned his poetic skills right here in Minnesota. And not long ago, before they had everybody dancing Too Close, the R&B group N.E.X.T. was just three Minnesotan boys singing the rounds at Twin Cities talent shows.

The people might have passed through our doors on their way to taking the world by storm, but the places still remain; entertaining us, and building the stars of tomorrow. The Guthrie Theater is legendary when it comes to the performing arts. The Walker, too, is world renowned. And according to MSN and Citysearch, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) is among the top ten museums of art in the nation.

Driving down Hennepin Avenue through downtown Minneapolis, all the big front doors you see with gleaming lights are not all restaurants and nightclubs either. The Hennepin Theatre District, as the area is called, is home to historic venues such as the State, Orpheum, and Pantages theatre, staging national and internationally acclaimed shows any given night.

Besides these big names, there are also tens and hundred of great smaller venues featuring great arts. There are multiple art galleries, more than 300 theatres with over a thousand groups putting together some of the most innovative shows anywhere in the country.

Maybe one thing I really like about these smaller venues is their openness to young talents. Many of them offer great workshop to beginners or anybody looking to freshen up on their skills in any art form. Or maybe you have a great show idea, and all you need is a few good minds to help you bring it to fruition; well hop on to places like Intermedia Arts on Lyndale and they’d guide you every step of the way. Mankwe, down at Center for Independent Artist in South Minneapolis, will also be more than happy to help you make that next move.

Talking about hop…the Twin Cities has one of the best underground hip hop scenes in the country. Any giving day you only need to check out places like the Dinky Towner, Red Sea, 7th Street Entry, etc to catch some of these talented brothers and sister spitting words that would surely give Jay Z and Eminem a run for their money.

If it’s money you fear, don’t fret. One thing I’ve learned in this country is that for everything afforded millionaires, if you look hard enough, get creative enough, you can get it for little or nothing. Most of these places offer free events. For example, the Walker’s Free First Saturday is a great opportunity to check out what it’s all about at no cost. MIA too offers something similar.

Outdoor festivals are mostly always free. Also open mic’s (like the one at the Blue Nile every Tuesday night) are great places to catch free shows and experience some raw talents on their way to becoming the hits of tomorrow. Take a date to an open mic and see what surprises the night brings.

If in no other season, the Twin Cities is the place to be in the summer. Both the Minneapolis Mosaic and the Fringe Festival feature great fun and cultural art events all summer long. All you have to do is Google any of these places or festivals to find a plethora of information about them.

So my people, let’s look out our windows, go out for walk, and enjoy the amenities afforded to us as residents of the Twin Cities. When you venture outside your house and work, it’s a beautiful fun-filled place to call home.