Phipps Center for the ArtsThe Phipps Center for the Arts, the area’s premier performing and visual arts center, is located in the heart of the St. Croix Valley in historic downtown Hudson.
The Phipps Center for the Arts, the area’s premier performing and visual arts center, is located in the heart of the St. Croix Valley in historic downtown Hudson. The Phipps has celebrated the creative spirit since 1983. It operates with a $1.2 million annual budget in a $7 million facility. Its Endowment Fund is over $1 million. While it draws performers, artists, audiences and visitors from throughout the area, The Phipps Center remains a community-based organization committed to offering the highest quality in artistic experience and arts education to Hudson-area residents. Talented artists, loyal attendees, enthusiastic volunteers and generous contributors all support The Phipps Center. During the past 27 years, the Drama Council, the community theater of the center, mounted well over 100 productions; The Phipps Children’s Theater, featuring area students performing for family audiences, produced nearly the same number of shows; the Music Council presented or produced over 260 concerts and offered more than 150 theater pipe organ concerts; the Visual Arts Council mounted well over 300 exhibitions or art fairs; and the Volunteer Council provided supporting services for all of the programming of the councils. In addition, hundreds of lessons, classes, and workshops in the performing and visual arts were offered every season. Perhaps the most noteworthy statistic during this time is that 1,000 volunteers contributed one million hours of dedicated and talented service.
The Phipps Center main stage is considered to be among the best performance venues in the metro with seating for 243, 36 fly lines, an orchestra pit and a Baldwin concert grand piano at the ready for concerts and recitals. Performances are also presented in the center’s Black Box Theater, a unique space without permanent seats or a stage that allows for maximum flexibility and the opportunity to put actors on the same level as the audience. The Phipps Drama Council annually mounts five community theater productions. Small professional production staffs direct the activities of volunteer performers and crews.
During the 2010-11 season, the community theater will stage the outrageous comedy "The Nerd," Agatha Christie’s mystery "The Hollow," the uplifting musical "Annie," the nostalgic musical “Forever Plaid,” and the touching comedy "The Dixie Swim Club." The Phipps Children’s Theater produces four shows each season utilizing the talents of area young people under the supervision of small professional staffs. This season, The Phipps Children’s Theater will mount the witty, new comedy “The BigBad Musical,” an intergenerational production of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” the classic tale of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and the endearing comedy “Lyle the Crocodile.”
Each year, the Music Council presents a series of five artists and/or ensembles as well as a series of theater organists. The 2010-11 season highlights Colleen Raye performing “A Tribute to Patsy Cline,” the Summit Hill Brass Quintet together with the St. Anthony Brass Quintet, the early music ensemble The WolfGang, guitarist Billy McLaughlin and the Eclectric String Quartet, and traditional jazz pianist Butch Thompson. The Phipps’s mighty Wurlitzer theater pipe organ draws performers from all over the country as well as England. This season the organ series features Ken Double with trumpeter Skip Stine, Jelani Eddington performing on organ and piano, Dave Wickerham, Clark Wilson accompanying the classic silent comedy Steamboat Bill Jr., and Ron Rhode. Special events include the 23rd annual free outdoor concert by the Minnesota Orchestra, Vic Tedesco and the Classic Big Band, pianist Layton James, cabaret concerts by Tony Sandler, the bluegrass ensemble Monroe Crossing, holiday concerts performed by The Phipps Festival Chorus and The Phipps Oratorio Society, New Year’s Eve concerts by Colleen Raye and Company with the Minnesota Jazz Orchestra, singer/songwriter Ann Reed, Ensemble Aventura performing From Russia to Rio, The Phipps Dance Company, The Phipps Oratorio Society, mandolinist/fiddler Peter Ostroushko with guitarist Pat Donohue, and the Barbary Coast Dixieland Show Band.
Art exhibits are displayed in the five galleries, which feature original art for sale by area artists. Art lovers can wander through at their leisure, looking at watercolor and oil paintings, mixed media, sculpture, photography and fabric art pieces. Several special exhibits are mounted annually and include the work of local artists and art students from the area. Approximately 600 artists will be served in ten Galleries exhibitions mounted by the Visual Arts Council, through the Gift Gallery, in the Healing Arts Program, in the Enriching Arts Program, and The Spirit of the St. Croix Days.
The Phipps Center’s mission also includes a commitment to arts education and it offers a year-long schedule of classes and hands-on opportunities in both the visual and performing arts. Ballroom, tap, jazz, hip-hop, modern, ballet, and bharatanatyam, as well as tai chi classes and yoga are just some of the movement classes offered at The Phipps Center. The dance studio is lined with mirrors on two walls. A ballet barre is also available, as well as a piano and sound system. Music classes are offered in a room with thick, movable curtains to change the acoustics and slanted ceilings that provide an almost distortion-free atmosphere. A grand piano usually sits in this room with special chairs lining it that enable musicians to have perfect posture when they sit in them. Musical groups rehearse here before a performance, and lessons are also given in the two instruction rooms connected to the main studio. A pottery studio has seven wheels where community members can learn how to throw bowls and vases during ceramics classes. Other classes include oil and watercolor painting, drawing, cartooning, needlework, and many other visual arts media.
The Phipps also offers an extensive schedule of visual and performing arts classes for children, including a full schedule of classes throughout the summer. Offerings throughout the year include jewelry, pottery, rosemaling, and watercolor classes along with classes in the dramatic arts. Most recently The Phipps has been working with Hudson-area schools on some joint education and appreciation projects for students. Volunteers At the heart of The Phipps Center’s success is a corps of volunteers that numbers more than 600 that contributes thousands of hours of support.
Volunteering at The Phipps include arranging the season of events, planning and installing gallery shows, performing, selling tickets, staffing the Gift Gallery, working backstage and ushering at performances. Individuals of all ages and skill levels as well as families are welcome to participate. Volunteering at The Phipps Center is a great way for those new to the area to become acquainted with all the center has to offer and all the wonderful people who are a part of it.
The River Room can be rented for meetings and is used for receptions and catered dinners before theater performances. A catering kitchen is also available. The Marie B. Blakeman Room, named for one of the founders, is also used for meetings, and both of these areas are part of the original building on the site of The Phipps Center — the Elks Hall, built around 1930. The Phipps Center was built around the Elks Hall in 1983. It doubled in size to 64,000 square feet in 1993. The Phipps Center Galleries and Gift Gallery are open daily and evenings when events are scheduled in The Phipps theaters. It is located on First Street between Locust and Vine Streets, just across from the Lakefront Park band shell and overlooking the St. Croix River. For more information call (715)386-2305 or the box office at (715)386-8409 or go online at http://www.ThePhipps.org.