Minnesota entertainment venue owners cautiously optimistic over new guidelines

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz doubled the capacity of venues from 25 percent to 50 percent Friday, March 12.

Trollwood Performing Arts' mainstage theatre in Moorhead stands empty Friday, March 12. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

MOORHEAD — Kathy Anderson, the executive director of the Trollwood Performing Arts School, had the final planning pieces in place for the summer musical last year, "Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella."

"We had just finished auditions for it at this time last year, and then we got the news of what was happening," Anderson said.

The show was also entirely cast, but the stage sat as it did Friday, March 12 — empty, with no crowd.

Over in Dilworth, Todd Carlson, the owner of TAK Music Venue, said they've lost out on more than 100 bands and artists over the past year.


He said he got a number of small business loans, but they've barely kept his building afloat.

"(The loans have) been helpful, but it's been very, very short of what's needed," Carlson said. "I have probably only 10% or less of what I needed to get through these times."

The stage inside TAK Music Venue in Dilworth, Minn., displays a swim meet Friday, March 12. The entertainment building has lost over 100 acts over the past year, according to owner Todd Carlson. Tanner Robinson / WDAY

Despite having shows canceled in 2020, Carlson still had a few of them on stage, for a crowd at 25% capacity.

When Gov. Tim Walz upped the capacity to 50% Friday, Carlson felt cautiously optimistic about letting more people in.

"I didn't build (TAK) planning to operate at 50%, so (we're) still needing to move that needle further, but yeah, it's a step in the right direction," he said.


But others, like Anderson, are excited to have any audience in the seats.

"I realized quickly last year, everything that we do, every single thing that our organization does, involves crowds, and it involves a lot of people, and a lot of students," she said.

Both Anderson and Carlson are hoping for more lights, cameras and action on the stage, as they both get closer to normal.

"We've been working on the plans for this summer for now two years basically, so we are just ready to do it," Anderson said.

Trollwood is planning on keeping "Cinderella" as its musical this June, and all of the cast who auditioned last year and got in will be part of it.

The TAK Music Venue will be hosting the Fargo-Moorhead Opera Friday, March 19, and Saturday, March 20.

Tanner Robinson is a producer for First News on WDAY-TV.
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