A look back at the events of 2009

It was a year marked by the economic recession, and one that took its toll on arts organizations both big and small. In addition we lost some local luminaries. But amidst it all there was some good news too. Read on for a recap of the major moments of 2009…

January

St. Paul Chamber Orchestra hosts what’s believed to be the first ever International Chamber Orchestra Festival.

Heart of the Beast Mask and Puppet Theater is dark for all of January and half of February, and temporarily lays off its staff in an attempt to trim $200,000 from its budget.

February

Poet, pianist, and essayist Bill Holm dies at the age of 65.

March

The Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Orchestra, Minneapolis Institute of Arts and Walker Art Center all announce significant cuts to their budgets and staff in response to the economic recession.

April

SPCO musicians agree to a pay cut, and the Minnesota Historical Society announces deep cuts to its own budget.

May

Guthrie Theater presents the premiere of Tony Kushner’s latest play “An Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures” as part of its Kushner Festival. Last minute changes to the script postpone the opening of the show by a week.

June

Minnesota Orchestra announces $40million expansion.

Jorja Fleezanis retires from her position as concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra.

The Vatican declares the St. Paul Cathedral a national shrine.

July

The Legacy Amendment Tax Increase takes effect, which dedicates a steady stream of funding from a sales tax increase for the environment and the arts

Claude Purdy, a founding member of the Penumbra Theatre in St. Paul, dies.

Noted music writer Michael Steinberg dies at the age of 80.

August

Minnesota Orchestra musicians accept a wage freeze, a reduction in pension contributions, and the freezing of open positions to help the orchestra save about $4.2 million over the next three years.

September

Minnesota icon Garrison Keillor gives the world a start when he suffers a minor stroke, just two months after A Prairie Home Companion celebrates its 35th anniversary.

October

Weisman Art Museum expansion gets underway.

An unprecedented exhibition of “masterpieces” from the Louvre Museum in Paris opens at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The Coen brothers’ “A Serious Man” opens in cinemas. The film is set in the brothers’ native St. Louis Park – the first of their movies set in Minnesota since “Fargo.”

November

Longtime Minneapolis music venue Uptown Bar shuts its doors.

The American Craft Council announces it’s moving to Minneapolis.

After 10 years of non-stop lobbying and fundraising, the new Minnesota Shubert Center finally breaks ground.

“Give to the Max Day” leads to more than $14 million dollars donated to Minnesota non-profits through the new website GiveMN.org.

St. Paul Pioneer Press announces theater critic Dominic Papatola is leaving the paper, and there are no plans to replace his position. Papatola will continue to write for the paper as a freelancer.

December

Despite the rough year, both the Minnesota Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra announce they’ve balanced their budgets, and the SPCO is even lowering its ticket prices.

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