Paramount Center for the Arts: a gem in the crown of downtown

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There’s a “Big Picture” vision for the Paramount that goes far beyond the frame of the stage’s Proscenium arch, a vision sometimes eclipsed by the glare of marquee lights on an opening night, but there, nevertheless. That vision is to become an all-encompassing arts venue, offering outstanding theatrical performances, arts education programming, outreach, and support to local performing and visual artists.

The Paramount is more than a rescued and restored movie house from the 1920’s. It has risen from the ashes of the 1985 fire to morph into the Paramount Center for the Arts. The new name and new logo, created in 2016, further reflect what the organization is and what it does, said Executive Director Bob Johnson. There has been much progress¬––thanks to the community’s enthusiastic support—however, more opportunities are waiting in the wings.

“We are really looking forward to the next decade of ‘new,”said Performing Arts Director Laurie Johnson.

“This is a very exciting time.”

Theatrical Performances

In 2004, the Center produced five shows and 15 others were staged by groups renting the theater. By comparison, in 2016 there were 150 Paramount presents/rental shows for a total of 237 days of events. The goal is to increase these numbers. Currently the Center is home to a dozen performing organizations that perform once or twice per year, including: the Minnesota Dance Ensemble (the only professional modern dance company outside of the Twin Cities), GREAT Theater (the only community theater in central Minnesota), and the St. Cloud Municipal Band (oldest municipal band in the country).

Arts Education

The Center maintains a roster of paid teaching artists who offer on-site classes in beading, calligraphy, clay, mosaics, drawing and painting, stained glass, weaving, watercolor, and wood-turning. Arts camp for educators and kids’ summer art camps are also enjoyed by the community.

Artist Opportunities

Artists may take advantage of teaching opportunities, art competitions, art displays and exhibitions, such as “Essential Art” and the High School Art Competition through Visual Arts Minnesota. The may sell their art in the Gift Gallery as well.

Community Outreach

Teaching artists work with area schools to reinforce learning, such as using beading and weaving to communicate math concepts, like the use of decimals. They also work in clay with the elderly of St. Benedicts’ and Good Shepherd communities. The Center would like to expand the number of constituencies it serves, noted Bob Johnson.

Look to the Future

As the Paramount Center for the Arts sees more participation from community members, the hope is the 90,000 patrons who are currently drawn to the downtown by its offering will grow to 120,000, benefiting the community from an economic and livability standpoint, said Bob Johnson.

To accomplish this, the Paramount Center for the Arts is working to secure more space—more studio space for lease to artists, rehearsal space for performers, a permanent art gallery, and a black box theater that would be an intimate venue for smaller and experimental shows.

Paramount Center for the Arts | 913 West Saint Germain | 320.259.5463 |

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