2011: The year in review

2011 was a particularly hard year to look back on. Sure, there was plenty to celebrate, from Ragamala Dance’s exceptional year, to the opening of the Cowles Center for Dance, and a grant that gave the city of St. Paul close to $1 million to employ artists.

But 2011 was also a year marked by loss. Not just institutions we loved – like the Southern Theater – but people. Some left us at a ripe old age, after leading full lives – John Davis and Leonard Parker – but others left us way too soon. I’m thinking about playwright Tom Poole, poet Roy McBride and jazz singer Christine Rosholt. Here at MPR, we lost both Arthur Hoehn and Tom Keith.

So as we start 2012, let’s give thanks to those who helped us get here, but weren’t able to make the journey themselves.

Here are just some of the highlights of what happened in the arts world this past year:


501 Club closes

Garrison Keillor introduces guest hosts to A Prairie Home Companion

Wayzata poet Joyce Sidman wins Newbery honor for her book “Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night.”


Perennial Plate goes national

Frank Sonntag appointed director of The Cowles Center


Epp and Serrand launch new theater company

Ragamala Dance earns rave review from the New York Times

Garrison Keillor announces retirement… we think.

Hall of Fame broadcaster Arthur Hoehn dies after fight with lung cancer

Vestiges of Merce Cunningham’s dance find home at Walker

Sally Awards: And the winners are…

Rising river threatens theater, artist studios

SCSU art students seek tuition increase


Northeast Public Library re-opens

“Gather” replaces 20.21 restaurant at the Walker Art Center

89.3 The Current debuts “Local Current Music Stream”

MN Book Awards: and the winners are…

Native American shirt returns home after 300 years

The Southern Theater hosts a fundraiser in an attempt to keep its doors open.


Southern Theater lays off five, cuts hours of remaining staff

Cloquet community theater headed to national festival

Mankato theater students earn national accolades

Isaac Becker wins James Beard Award for his restaurant, 112 Eatery

Julie Andrews visits Perpich Center for the Arts

Mixed Blood Theater announces new “radical hospitality” program, allowing people to see its shows for free

Ranee Ramaswamy named 2011 McKnight Distinguished Artist


It’s the inaugural year of “Northern Spark”

The Southern Theater is reduced to a rental facility, with a staff of one.

Two Minnesota teens head to Broadway

John Waters floods the Walker with art

Play by Play Theatre Bookstore closes

Playwright Tom Poole hit by car, dies a week later

MN teen wins national musical theater award

Bill Kling, founder of MPR, steps down


The state of the arts in a state shutdown

John B. Davis, savior of schools and arts organizations, dies

Architect Leonard Parker dies at age 90

Duluth mural becomes source of controversy

Poet Roy McBride dies at the age of 67


Minnesota Historical Society launches online encyclopedia

Joyce Sutphen named Minnesota Poet Laureate


Cowles Center for Dance Opens

St. Paul gets close to $1 million to employ artists in “Irrigate” project

The St. John’s Bible is completed

Twin Cities actor Warren C. Bowles suffers cardiac arrest on stage


Newly expanded Weisman Art Museum reopens

Architects, preservationists raise concerns over Peavey Plaza’s future

Tom Keith, A Prairie Home Companion’s sound effects man, dies


Cowles Center Executive Director Frank Sonntag resigns


Poet Bao Phi gets rave New York Times review

National media light shines on Penumbra Theatre

Twin Cities jazz fans shocked at passing of Christine Rosholt

Loring Theater closes

What news defined the year for you? Share your memories of 2011 in the comments section.