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The Guthrie Theater is the prize jewel in the cultural crown of the Twin Cities. A Minneapolis institution as old as both the Vikings and the Twins, and better known worldwide than either of them, it is more than just a roof and four walls housing a tremendous theater company. It is a performance space nonpareil that has fueled the cultural fluorescence of our metropolis. Thanks to the tremendous vision of Sir Tyrone Guthrie and the brilliant translation of that vision by Minnesota architect Ralph Rapson, it is as modern and artful today as the day it opened its' doors, and is just as functional. The theater itself, an acoustical diamond, together with the thrust stage and 54 foot range of intimacy, has produced performances of the absolute highest order that aspire to, and achieve, everything that is great about the artistic experience. The theater, along with the patrons who become participants in this aural act of "audio television," has witnessed a living history of great, important and powerful art. Its' musical roster of performers (Bill Monroe, Elizabeth Cotten, Sun Ra, The Who, The Modern Jazz Quartet, and Townes Van Zandt to name but a few) over the last 40 years should be enough to qualify it for the National Historic Register. It is more than that, though. I say without overstatement that it is the Carnegie Hall of the Midwest, a shining example of what can be and what should be, and like Carnegie Hall, the Guthrie Theater cannot be moved and should not be torn down.

We do not begrudge Joe Dowling's desire to expand his space to create larger works for the theater, but we do not believe he has the right to usurp Sir Guthrie's vision for this particular piece of Kenwood real estate. His statement that he would like to "recreate the ambience and size of the Guthrie in the new theater" should really be filed, in these dubious economic times, in the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" file. He himself admits, "it is a very powerful space." What we truly cannot afford is to throw the baby out with the bath water. If you pile the Guthrie on top of the Met Stadium, Memorial Stadium, Met Center and Nicollet Mall, we are five hundred miles closer to Omaha.

We are living in coarse, violent and mediocre times. Now is not the time to abandon and destroy what has become an irreplaceable and very real high church of artistic expression and experience. Art is the one area of human endeavor capable of serving as a beacon to illuminate what we are capable of as humans and as a society. Let us do the right thing for yesterday, today and tomorrow and preserve this sacred space.

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Hollie WongBy:
Justice, rights and public orderIn:
Petition target:
The Guthrie Theater and Walker Art Center

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