Minnesotans are proud of any “firsts” or “mosts” that take us out of the flyover category. Keith Ellison was the nation’s first Muslim Representative in Congress. Minneapolis vies to be the nation’s most fit city. The Minnesota Arboretum has developed some of the best-known apple varieties. The Minneapolis Institute of Arts has one of the best encyclopedic collections in the country, and the Walker is nationally known for its modern art. The Twin Cities’ park systems consistently take top honors at the national level. Lakeview Chapel has the finest Byzantine-style mosaics in the country. Every few years, we build a new stadium. And, until recently, we had Prince.
Of course, Minnesota is also the home base of Room & Board. Recently Room & Board hosted an exciting event celebrating its continued partnership with another Minnesota “most.” The Guthrie Theater was founded in 1963 as a regional alternative to the monopoly of Broadway. Broadway at that time increasingly relied on immediate successes of splashy musicals at high ticket prices in order to cover huge production costs. The Guthrie’s goal from the beginning was a not-for-profit environment showing “classics in rotating repertory with the highest professional standards.”
In 2006, the Guthrie opened its new space right on the Mississippi River, designed by architect Jean Nouvel. In 2016, the Guthrie redesigned their VIP reception room in this space, with help from Aaron Dahl, Room & Board Design Associate. The redesigned VIP reception room has played host to paintings by another Room & Board staff member, Customer Support Associate Josh Meillier.
The latest collaboration with the Guthrie was an event to kick off their 2016-2017 season. Singers from The Parchman Hour performed during a two-hour event which also included small bites and drinks. The Parchman Hour is a variety showcase of songs and stories from the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, brave souls known as Freedom Riders boarded buses and headed into areas of discrimination to stand up against segregation. Some were imprisoned in Mississippi’s notorious Parchman Farm Penitentiary, where they developed the songs and stories that make up The Parchman Hour.
Our event to celebrate The Parchman Hour was planned by Design Associate Aaron Dahl. Retail Market Manager Elise Nicpon took an hour out of her day to pick up the audio equipment, which had been routed to an outer suburb by the rental company. Caterer Cynthia Olson expanded her usual repertory to include southern classics like ambrosia salad and shrimp and grits. Guthrie reps placed flyers around the showroom. Singers Cat Brindisi, David Darrow and Nathan Barlow performed with passion and style. And event-goers lingered longer than usual, exploring everything from the baby section for their grandkids to the Callan chair for a new apartment.
We’ve already received a thank-you note from the Guthrie reps who teamed with us on the event, noting how enthusiastic the response was. Hopefully this will be part of a growing collaboration between two great Minnesota “mosts.”