Arts and Culture in St. Cloud, MN
Music, dance, theater, art galleries and professional entertainment come together in the Paramount Arts District, a lively swath of downtown St. Cloud.
The centerpiece is Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center, which opened as a playhouse on Christmas Eve 1921. Patrons paid 50 cents to see a silent D.W. Griffith film with live orchestra accompaniment.
Time and changing tastes took their toll on the grand building, as did a fire in 1985. But renovation in the 1990s restored the Paramount and created an arts hub. The theater offers live performances, its visual arts center has studios and private classes, and the Paramount Gallery shows original work from regional artists.
A list of organizations with offices in the Paramount show the city’s support of creativity: The St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra, the St. Cloud Civic Theatre, The Troupe Theatre, the Great River Educational Theatre, the Chamber Music Society of St. Cloud, the Saint Paul City Ballet, Visual Arts Minnesota, the Multicultural Children’s Arts Connection, the St. Cloud Arts Commission and United Arts of Central Minnesota.
Also downtown is Pioneer Place on Fifth, a professional theater company that presents eight shows a year in another renovated historic building. The Granite City Folk Society sponsors concerts throughout the region.
The region’s granite and dairy industries as well as waves of immigration take the stage at Stearns History Museum. The museum itself is set in a 100-acre park and provides kids with their own interactive gallery. It’s a jackpot for genealogists, specializing in information from Luxembourg and Germany. The rich collection includes oral history tapes and more than 500,000 photographs.
Summer is festival season and in June 2008, the St. Cloud Times counted 30 of them within an hour’s drive from St. Cloud. Granite City Days began in 2007, and in its second year, the festival added Taste of St. Cloud at Lake George. The event drew 8,000 spectators to a rainy parade and served pancakes 1,000 people at a “fly-in” breakfast at St. Cloud Regional Airport.
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