Pipestone’s long history of local performing arts began with the Pipestone Male Chorus, directed by Allen Opland, which was formed in the 1940s and performed at the high school auditorium for many years. In the 1960s the group enlarged to include a women’s chorus and renamed themselves Pipestone Male Chorus and Friends. This group performed at the Lake Benton Opera House and Palace Theater in Luverne, as well as at the Pipestone High School auditorium. In time they renamed the group the Al Opland Singers in honor of their founder.
From the 1950s through the 1970s the stage of Pipestone High School was home to the Allied Concert Series followed later by the Hiawatha Concert and Theater Association. During this time the Pipestone Arts Council was begun. There was an increasing need for a place for local talent to perform.
In 1992 the Pipestone Performing Arts Center began as a dream by visionary residents to create that place. They were driven by the need for a home for the Al Opland Singers and a venue for community theater. The task force searched for suitable space and eventually negotiated with the Masonic Orders for use of the street level of the Masonic Temple/Ferris Grand Block, an historic Sioux Quartzite building in Pipestone’s beautiful Downtown Historic District.
The Copious fundraising ensued; a managing director was hired; the Pipestone Performing Arts Center, Inc. (PPAC) was incorporated as a 501C3 non-profit corporation: an architect was hired; and the space was converted to a lovely, intimate, totally handicapped-equipped, 290-seat-theater. Equipment, often used, was acquired.
There is a large lobby done in art deco style. The Opland Singers are based here as well as the Calumet Players, and Calumet Children’s Theater. Rehearsal spaces, a scene shop, “green room” and costume storage serve all groups. In addition, from four to six special performances, called the “Presenter Series”, are booked by PPAC each year.
In late 2008 PPAC was given a challenge by a former resident: if they could raise $25,000 in the coming year, she would match it four to one. She also started the effort with a $20,000 donation. The PPAC worked diligently and made the challenge a reality late in 2009. Thus the Rickerman Endowment came into being, providing a small amount of interest on a semi-annual basis to PPAC.
Some of the major accomplishments are performances of “Opera on the Farm”, two shows put on by the Guthrie Theater Tour Group, a stellar performance by the Minnesota Orchestra and a two night sell-out performance by Lorie Line.
In recent years the PPAC has hosted a widening variety of performances and shows including dance troupes, traveling theater groups, comedy shows, documentary films, cultural speakers and various other community events.
Meet the Board of Directors
The Pipestone Performing Arts Center is located at 104 East Main Street, in the heart of Pipestone’s Historic District. This District is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places. The Center is housed in a Sioux quartzite building which dates back to 1897.
We are managed by a very dedicated group of community volunteers and our Managing Director, Mark Thode. The Pipestone Performing Arts Center is the host stage for the Calumet Players, the Calumet Players Children’s Theater, and the Al Opland Singers.
The Calumet Players offer great community theater with shows directed, managed, and acted out by local or area talents. They produce three shows a year, generally a mid-winter event, fall event and a summertime musical. The Children’s Theater produces one show per year with local youth entertaining all theater goers.
The Al Opland Singers have been a local tradition for many, many years. They have called our stage home since our opening. Twice a year, this group of talented voices from around the area entertains our audiences. We gladly welcome bus tours and group events with advance notification.
The Arts Center is in its 28th year of presenting a variety of quality shows. Support comes from SMAC, the Minnesota State Arts Board, as well as patrons and friends of the performing arts in Pipestone. If you would like to offer your support, please send correspondence to:
Mark Thode, Managing Director
PO Box 100, Pipestone, MN 56164-0100
Engaging a Passion
Engaging with the arts enriches each of us, and that engagement brings people together, it fosters community. Ask any volunteer or artist who has volunteered for community theater. They are one. Art and artists aren’t only in museums or concert halls -- they are all around us. Even here... in Pipestone.