Trollwood Performing Arts School becomes a part of “Bluestem”


Audience members fill the amphitheater at the new Trollwood Performing Arts School facility for the opening performance of “The Wiz.”

Photo credit: David Samson / The Forum

Trollwood Performing Arts School has decided that in order to increase its revenue, it needs to do more than teach.

For years, Trollwood Performing Arts School has run a summer program that taught hundreds of kids how to dance, act, write plays, build sets and more. In 2009 the school moved to a new, sprawling campus on the high side of the Red River in south Moorhead (its old home was regularly flooded).

While the TPAS had an ambitious vision for the new school (featuring a dozen or so buildings), it was only able to raise the funds for a fraction of the project. However it was able to construct a state-of-the-art outdoor amphitheater that seats well over 2000 people. Each summer the performing arts program culminates in a large outdoor stage production.

This last summer, when Garrison Keillor brought “A Prairie Home Companion” to Fargo-Moorhead, he chose the outdoor amphitheater to present the radio show. Despite bad weather and traffic, the audience was packed. Then Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater came to teach and perform, with similar success. Trollwood leaders realized their venue had the potential to generate more money for the school, and help it complete its original vision for the campus.

Now, the school is going to be part of a larger organization, named Bluestem Center for the Arts, that will program the amphitheater with all sorts of events for the general public. It’s considering not just concerts, but corporate retreats, as well as summer and winter festivals that involve the entire community.

Steve Wurzer is the president of Future Builders, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises funds to support Trollwood Performing Arts School and now community arts programming at Bluestem. He says the name Bluestem is associated with native prairie grasses found in the area.

“The name has many qualities that we like. It is geographically relevant and we believe it reflects the character of the site and what we offer,” added Wurzer.

You can find out more information about the name change and programming expansion here.

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