The Cedar Cultural Center, commonly known as The Cedar, is a non-profit performing arts organization that presents the best in local, national, and international music. The Cedar’s mission is to promote intercultural appreciation and understanding through the presentation of global music and dance.
The Cedar is committed to artistic excellence and integrity, diversity of programming, support for emerging artists, and community outreach.
The Cedar hosts over 200 events each year including music performances in all genres, dances, workshops, artist residencies and educational programs.
The only all-ages venue of its kind in the Midwest, The Cedar was established in 1989 and operates in a building that was constructed as a movie theater in 1948. The hall can be configured for seated concerts (450 capacity) as well as standing room concerts (625 capacity) and provides high-quality sound in an intimate concert environment, never putting the audience member more than 30 feet away from the stage.
Minnesota Public Radio has said, “The Cedar is regarded as one of the best venues in the country to be able to see and hear an artist as though you were in their living room.” Many now-well-known artists such as Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Ani DiFranco, Ryan Adams, Tinariwen, Andrew Bird, Greg Brown, Maryan Mursal, and Dr. Ralph Stanley have performed on The Cedar’s stage, which demonstrates both the quality of The Cedar’s programming and its role in artists’ growth.
The Cedar Theatre, as it was referred to pre-1989, once housed the Contemporary Dance Playhouse School and the Center Opera, which became the Minnesota Opera in 1968. In 1986 the Coffeehouse Extempore moved across the street on Cedar Ave and operated out of The Cedar until 1987. Ownership of The Cedar was transferred to Minnesota STAR, Inc. in 1989 and the theatre then became The Cedar Cultural Centre (now spelled ‘Center’)
In January 1993, The Cedar hired Bill Kubeczko as Executive Director. For 15 years, he built The Cedar’s national reputation as a premier music room featuring international artists, national touring artists and local musicians – particularly in the folk and acoustic genres.
In 2008 Kubeczko stepped down and longtime Cedar board member and Ryko Disc founder, Rob Simonds stepped into the Executive and Artistic Director roles. His time at the helm of The Cedar will be marked by the return to fiscal health, the expansion of the depth and breadth of the music programming, and the institutionalization of the organization into the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood enabling a leadership role in reviving the rich musical tradition of the Somali immigrants that call Minneapolis their home. This transformation is a great example of Simonds’ leadership of The Cedar truly embracing its mission of “intercultural appreciation through music”.
In 2015, Simonds stepped down as Executive Director and left organization leadership in the hands of Adrienne Dorn, the organization’s former Director of Development.
Located in the heart of Cedar-Riverside, one of the most prolific neighborhoods for live music in Minneapolis, and the home to the largest Somali diaspora in the U.S., The Cedar plays a key role in maintaining the vibrancy and diversity of the Twin Cities’ arts scene. The Cedar supports innovative local artists, hosts international performers who may not otherwise visit Minnesota, brings communities together under a common appreciation for music, offers unique educational opportunities, and facilitates artist collaborations. Charitable funding allows The Cedar to maintain its mission-driven programming and to focus on initiatives that further accessibility and outreach, allowing us to expand our audiences and serve an increasingly diverse group of people.
In 2014 The Cedar launched the Midnimo program (funded by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art) in partnership with Augsburg College that builds knowledge and understanding of Somali Muslim culture through music. Midnimo (the Somali word for “unity”) brings Somali artists from around the world to Minnesota for residencies that include public concert performances, workshops, and artist-led discussions on campus and in the community. These events are designed to facilitate and inspire dialogue and interaction through artistic and academic interventions for Somali and non-Somali audiences.
Through programs such as Midnimo, The Cedar Commissions, and The Cedar’s signature Global Roots Festival The Cedar continues to fulfill its mission of promoting intercultural appreciation through global music.