Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

Off-Leash Area to open new performance space in east Nokomis

Posted on 28 August 2017 by calvin

The SAGE and Ivey Award- winning Off-Leash Area is launching an exciting new adventure as they announced the opening of a brand new performance venue in South Minneapolis: The Off-Leash Art Box.

Construction is underway at 4200 54th St. E., and plans for the Art Box grand opening are set for the weekend of Oct. 28-29.

The Art Box will be Off-Leash Area’s home base for its productions, classes, workshops, and other programming, and will serve the broader community by providing an affordable and professionally equipped small venue for the many independent dance and theater makers in the Twin Cities.

Having experienced their own challenges in finding affordable spaces, Jennifer Ilse and Paul Herwig, Off-Leash Area Artistic Directors, decided to take matters into their own hands and purchased a property.

Small performance venues in Minneapolis have rapidly disappeared due to gentrification. In the past year alone four small venues closed as the owners sold these properties for commercial development. This inspired the decision to purchase the Art Box rather than lease a building.

“By owning our own building we own our destiny, and we wish to share the power of that self-sufficiency with our community,” stated the Artistic Directors.

The Off-Leash Art Box will fill a gap in the Minneapolis community as an affordable 75-seat flexible performance venue with professional technical support. It is an intimate space where local audiences can see the most vital work by the area’s most exciting contemporary and independent performance makers, as well as a sorely needed affordable space for rehearsals, workshops, and classes.

Off-Leash Area was founded in Minneapolis in 1999 and creates original interdisciplinary performance work. Named after the public parks where dogs run untethered, OLA’s creative approach is likewise playful, crosses boundaries, and takes risks.

In its 18 years, OLA has created 25 original evening-length performance works, many short-form works, taught classes in Inverted Dance, workshops in Performance & Scenic Design, been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, the O’Shaughnessy, and collaborated with an ever growing community of the Twin Cities’ most exciting performance makers.

OLA has four performance programs: presenting its Main-stage Productions in Minneapolis venues, Micro-stage Productions in their own home/studio Our Garage, the Neighborhood Garage Tour which brings performance work directly into neighborhoods, and The Right Here Showcase, an annual mini-festival of independent mid-career Minnesota-based performance makers.

Off-Leash Area believes this new space will be a peak achievement after 18 years of commitment and contributions. The Art Box also represents a major opportunity for raising the profile of the organization, and for the Artistic Directors to take on a significant new leadership role in the community by giving back, mentoring, and paying it forward.

For more information or to support and participate in Off-Leash Art Box rehab activities, visit their website at

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