HUGE Improv Theater is excited to announce that it is moving from its original home at 3037 Lyndale Avenue in Minneapolis, up the street to a larger space at 2728 Lyndale. The Twin Cities Improv Festival in late June 2023 will be the last event in the old space, with plans to open the doors on the new space at the beginning of September.
Expanding from 4000 to 6755 square feet, this new space will allow HUGE to grow in nearly every area: a larger stage, more seats, additional classroom/rehearsal space, additional restrooms, and an expansive and welcoming lobby. HUGE will be able to hold more classes, seat more theatergoers, and accommodate more community partnerships and outreach efforts. Since HUGE first opened its doors in 2010, Twin Cities improv has exploded from a few dozen performers to thousands of students and practicioners, and this move will allow HUGE to continue serving its ever-growing and diversifying community.
HUGE has signed a 10-year lease on the southern half of the property owned by JoAnn and Larry Brown, who until recently operated the retail store Art Materials there. Art Materials will continue to operate out of the north half of the property. They have a retail store and also sell items online. (*Please note in the print edition of this article, it stated that they would only be selling items online.)
An overflowing community of performers and students, as well as ideological incompatibility with its landlord, made it imperative for HUGE to move to a different, larger space. Still, the leadership of HUGE is very pleased to remain in the LynLake neighborhood.
“Unfortunately, in the last few years, we’ve seen the closure of a lot of performance spaces in our area – The Theater Garage, Intermedia Arts, ComedySportz – and we don’t want to be part of that culture drain. We love it here, and we want to be a part of keeping south Minneapolis artistically vital,” said managing director Sean Dillon.
HUGE made a bid to purchase 2728 Lyndale in 2019, but after a key lender fell through, that plan had to be scuttled. Then the pandemic lockdown changed things: Art Materials found that their business shifted to online sales and much of their space was no longer needed. The two organizations remained connected through a leasing broker, and in 2022 the discussion of a rental instead of a purchase was born.
In the wake of the pandemic, construction materials costs have soared, and converting an open-plan retail space into a performance and education venue is currently estimated at up to $750,000. HUGE is tapping into many sources of funding – from community fundraisers to grants to its own savings – but is still seeking funding assistance to build-out the facility as planned.
“What we have right now is a tremendous opportunity for someone – a philanthropist or a socially-conscious corporation – to make a transformative impact on an entire art form,“ said co-executive director John Gebretatose, “by supporting this theater that is a leading light in its field, especially on authentic diversity and inclusion and performer safety. We’re also an absolute bargain when it comes to sponsoring art that builds community and makes lives better.”
* Article corrected after print edition. In the print edition of this article, it stated that Art Materials would only be selling items online but they operate a retail store in the northern half of the building and will continue to do so.
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