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After $6 Million Renovation, Arts Center Is Ready For Unveiling

With its extensive transformation nearly complete, the new Luminary Arts Center on 1st Street North is planning an open house for Saturday, August 20th with food trucks, live music and open tours from 11am to 3pm. And the North Loop is invited.

“We really wanted to be able to open it up and invite people in, both of the direct neighborhood community as well as the wider performing arts community before we opened,” said Julia Gallagher, Luminary Arts Center Director.

Formerly known as Lab Theater, the performance venue has undergone a massive renovation, with a new entry and concession area, lighting, seating and acoustic upgrades. Minnesota Opera purchased the building in 2019, in part, to have a smaller venue in addition to the 1,800 seat Ordway Center in St. Paul where most of its performances are held. The Luminary will have seating for about 220.

Minnesota Opera’s first show in this space, Rinaldo, is “a baroque chamber opera that we could never do successfully in The Ordway,” said Gallagher. “So it provides a different type of intimacy and allows for a different type of staging and an expansion to our programming.”

New panels, angled walls and an overhead reflector have been installed to provide better acoustics for the facility, with the historic stone and brick walls in the front and back of the room staying uncovered and unpainted.

Luminary Arts Center is next to MN Opera’s offices on 1st St.

The newly-remodeled space won’t just be used for opera. Other arts companies will still use it for theater, dance and variety shows. The theater group Ten Thousand Things will be the first to use the new stage with its play Iphigenia at Aulis September 21-25 and September 28-October 2.

“Obviously our industry is one that was hit incredibly hard (by the pandemic),” said Gallagher. “So to be able to open a space, to feel fairly confident we’re going to be able to have people and performances and make that live art, that’s really exciting.”

Box office representatives will be on hand at Saturday’s open house with information about tickets to individual performances.

By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer

New concession area

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