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NEWS: Hennepin Theatre Trust Officially Takes Over

A view from above of the Orpheum Theatre and the Hennepin Theatre Trust space at 900 Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis, MN.

The Hennepin Theatre Trust, a nonprofit operating the Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres, has redeemed bonds to officially take ownership of these theatres. The local nonprofit was established in 2000 to take over the trio of historic theatres, supervise aspects of their restoration, and develop Hennepin Avenue as an active arts space. A 30-year financing arrangement began in 2005, under which a series of bonds were issued to finance the Trust gradually taking over ownership from the City of Minneapolis. These bonds have now been redeemed, 13 years ahead of schedule.

The Hennepin Theatre Trust generates an annual economic impact of $120 million, and engages with hundreds of Minnesota artists and works with thousands of high school students every year. As a result of completing the lease, Hennepin Theatre Trust will now take full title of the theatres and accelerate its work to rejuvenate the District due to increased ability to better integrate the operations of all of the Trust’s venues, coordinate programs, activate the Hennepin Theatre District and provide a consistent visitor experience.

“Since its founding, Hennepin Theatre Trust has been committed to the economic and cultural vitality of the District, the city and the state of Minnesota. The Trust has actively advanced the vision of the Hennepin Theatre District with world-class entertainment and large-scale public art installations, while making a difference in the lives of thousands of students across the state through musical theatre education programming,” said Mark Nerenhausen, President and CEO of Hennepin Theatre Trust. “Thanks to our stable financial footing, Hennepin Theatre Trust has realized the original vision of the City of Minneapolis 13 years early, and we are now poised to accelerate the work we’ve been doing for the last six years as a civic institution and a nationally-recognized performing arts center in the heart of Minnesota.”

“Our extraordinary performing arts community promotes the identity and culture of Minneapolis each and every day,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “I am so proud of this achievement by Hennepin Theatre Trust, proving that our community can – and will – sustain a thriving performing arts center. I look forward to the great things to come in the Hennepin Theatre District.”

“For 100 years, generations upon generations of Minnesotans have come through the lobby doors of the historic theatres along Hennepin Avenue to take their seats and be transported as the curtain rises. These theatres are gems in the fabric of our state, and I will forever be proud of our efforts to renovate, protect and safeguard their futures,” said Minneapolis City Council Member Lisa Goodman. “By concluding the lease from the City, Hennepin Theatre Trust is fulfilling the City’s original vision, 13 years in advance, of renovating the century-old theatres and guaranteeing their futures for generations to come.”

Since its founding, Hennepin Theatre Trust has partnered with Broadway Across America and its theatre management company, Historic Theatre Group, to bring the best of Broadway to the heart of downtown Minneapolis. As Hennepin Theatre Trust completes the lease from the City, the Trust will continue its relationship with Broadway Across America and Historic Theatre Group, a partnership that has been pivotal to the success of the Hennepin Theatre District in presenting world-class entertainment and enhancing the vitality of Minnesota’s culture and economy.

“Broadway Across America is proud to continue to bring the very best of Broadway to the Hennepin Theatre District for years to come. Over 6 million people have experienced the excitement of Broadway on Hennepin Avenue with the highest quality of entertainment and first-class service,” said Jim Sheeley, President of Broadway Across America North. “Throughout the years, Broadway Across America has brought more than 450 shows and launched dozens of pre-Broadway shows and national tours including Disney’s The Lion King. Broadway has had a major impact on the local economy, contributing over $1 billion in economic impact for the city of Minneapolis.”

The financing of Hennepin Theatre Trust’s repayment of the City-issued bonds was achieved in partnership with Minnesota-based Bremer Bank.

“Bremer Bank is proud to partner with Hennepin Theatre Trust on this major achievement for our community,” said Jeanne Crain, president and CEO of Bremer Financial Corporation. “Bremer’s purpose is to cultivate thriving communities, and this new agreement is an actionable outcome of living our purpose. We are excited to partner in this project as Hennepin Theatre Trust furthers its work to enrich the lives of Minnesotans as a major performing arts center in the heart of Minneapolis.”

In its efforts to revitalize the Hennepin Theatre District, Hennepin Theatre Trust works closely with civic partners in downtown Minneapolis and across the state.

“Today’s announcement is good news for the trajectory of our city,” said Melvin Tennant, President & CEO of Meet Minneapolis. “Every year, throughout the year, Hennepin Theatre Trust brings 600,000 people to the heart of downtown Minneapolis and drives $120 million in economic impact. Now, with the titles to the theatres, Hennepin Theatre Trust is ready to advance their work even further as a major performing arts center that brings national recognition to our city.”

“Hennepin Theatre Trust plays a major role in the renaissance of our downtown community. Just last month, Wicked brought more than 100,000 patrons to downtown and generated an economic impact of $30.9 million,” said Steve Cramer, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Downtown Council. “The performing arts create a bustling, thriving and welcoming downtown, and as we look toward the future of our great city, I am proud that Minneapolis is home to a nationally known performing arts center. Hennepin Theatre Trust’s future is bright.”

“In Minneapolis, our economic prosperity, culture and identity is powered in part by our flourishing performing arts sector,” said Jonathan Weinhagen, President and CEO of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber. “Today’s news means that Hennepin Theatre Trust’s vision for our city as a thriving and bustling hub of culture and activity will be accelerated as they cement their place as one of our nation’s top performing arts centers.”

In addition to holding the titles of the historic Orpheum, State and Pantages theatres along Hennepin Avenue, Hennepin Theatre Trust also owns The Hennepin, an arts and cultural event center, as well as the theatre at 824 Hennepin Avenue, home of The Brave New Workshop, the nation’s oldest continuously running sketch comedy and improvisation group.

Twin Cities Arts Reader