White Bear Center for the Arts, Lakeshore Players Theatre Receive Thousands in Grants

The view from the stage of the Lakeshore Players Theatre.
The Lakeshore Players Theatre and the White Bear Center for the Arts received $116,915 in grants.

By: Claire Swenson

The Lakeshore Players Theatre

After nearly 60 hours of work on the application, The Lakeshore Players Theatre received notice that they were awarded the Operating Support Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. The grant, which can be used for the theatre as the staff sees fit, totaled at $47,609.

“We couldn’t do what we do without [the Minnesota State Arts Board],” says executive director of the theatre, Rob Thomas. “Every well-rounded community has access to arts and community… It offers an opportunity for people in the community to express themselves.”

The Lakeshore Players Theatre provides many programs for White Bear Lake and the surrounding area: six mainstage shows throughout the year, three kids and family shows, an extensive outreach program with residencies in many local schools and summer classes for all ages, from young children through adults.

A performance of "Cabaret" at Lakeshore Players Theatre
Courtesy of Lakeshore Players Theatre

White Bear Center for the Arts

The White Bear Center for the Arts was also notified this July that they were receiving the Operating Support Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Totaling $69,309, the grant will go to the general functioning of the center. “It’s a critical part of our operating support,” says Suzi Hudson, executive director of the WBCA. “It has an impact on everything we are able to do.”

The exterior of the White Bear Center for the Arts
Courtesy of White Bear Center for the Arts

The center has eight exhibitions a year and 900 classes taught by professional artists. They have a wide variety of focuses: visual arts, culinary arts, artistic development, creative writing and summer youth camps. Many community events are hosted by the center, including outreach programs, book clubs and live music.

Hudson summarizes the goal of WBCA, saying it is to be “expanding people’s understanding of the arts and different cultures.”

Two kids at a pottery class at White Bear Center for the Arts
Courtesy of White Bear Center for the Arts

Community Impact

“We hear all the time that it creates community,” Hudson says, citing extensive research that the WBCA has conducted recently. “It helps us create both a strong local community, but also identify with a global community.”

Thomas says that not only does The Lakeshore Players Theatre provide a creative outlet and, like the WBCA, is a gathering space for the community, but it also provides an economic boost. With programs that draw in audiences throughout the Twin Cities, more people are coming into White Bear Lake, supporting not only The Lakeshore Players and the White Bear Center for the Arts, but many other local businesses.

The Creative Minnesota 2019 report says that, since The Legacy Amendment was passed in 2008, there has been a $657 million growth in economic impact from arts organizations and their audiences. The Amendment was key in supporting the Legacy Arts and Culture Fund for the Minnesota State Arts Board and other nonprofits and councils in Minnesota.

“Minnesota is a very special state in that the arts are something of great value,” Thomas says. “Thank you to our legislature for making this available.”

Hudson echoes the sentiment, saying, “Minnesota is so great, largely because of its value and support of the arts. I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else… I want to thank every citizen of the state for helping to pass the [Legacy] Amendment.”

Two women draw with chalk at the White Bear Center for the Arts
Courtesy of Susan Hartzell Vannelli