In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre performed today, January 10, on the Paramount stage for the very first time to a rapt audience of 453 middle and high school students from throughout Central Minnesota. The Story of Crow Boy shared the life of artist/author Taro Yashima who lived during WWII as both a Japanese and American citizen. His gentle spirit knew love, pain, imprisonment, torture, adventure, separation, prejudice all before writing his children’s book about bullying. But it was a book he could never have written were it not for his complex life experiences. The play captures his life’s journey along with his books with power, grace, surprise, humor, creativity and passion. The stage setting, puppetry, lighting, projection, powerful acting, incredible singing and intriguing music wove the play into an unforgettable experience.

After the play, 100 art students, twenty each from Foley, Sauk Rapids, Becker, Tech and Apollo, worked with Sandra Spieler, HOB Artistic Director and Masanari Kawahara, lead actor, to explore puppetry and create mini-plays that capture the trials experienced when we judge and are judged.

This internationally acclaimed company produces original plays and tour productions, creates specially commissioned pageants throughout Minnesota and beyond, and teaches puppetry and pageantry through residencies and workshops to youth, students and teachers, and communities. Today’s performance of The Story of Crow Boy was made possible with grants from both the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Central Minnesota Arts Board because the voters of Minnesota approved a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

The company arrived on Tuesday and spent an entire day setting the stage. Artistic Director Sandra Spieler shared the company’s past work with other communities, especially around the valuable resource of water. The Paramount hopes to explore other options with In the Heart of the Beast to provide our community with access to this amazing resource.

It’s time for one of our fabulous employees at the Paramount Center for the Arts to step into the spotlight! Meet Derick Segerstrom, Manager of the Visual Arts Department. Derick has been with The Paramount for 13 years, where he says we are one big family! On a regular basis, you can find Derick in Gallery St. Germain, giving tours (one of his FAVORITE things to do), and planning art classes for the Studios.

Derick says that the best part of his job is the people. “I get to meet and work with so many amazing people all the time! It is fun to introduce people to our space and see them explore and discover new talents or expand and develop their techniques! Central Minnesota is full of extremely brilliant people, and I am fortunate to know many and always excited to meet more of you!”

Outside of work you will find him researching genealogy, traveling across the country, enjoying time with friends, taking adventures to museums and concerts or just spending the day at home playing games or watching movies!

Support your Paramount by giving
this Thursday, November 16th for Give the Max Day!

Donate round button 3d

On Wednesday, November 8, our new Director of Performing Arts, Gretchen Boulka, sat down with KVSC’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Producer, Jeff Carmack, to talk about the wide variety of events happening at the Paramount from now through the New Year. The segment is about 30 minutes and covers everything from The Texas Tenors to New Year’s Eve comedy to the latest art exhibit in the Gallery St. Germain. Grab a cup of coffee and settle in, or listen on your way to work. There’s something for everyone at the Paramount this holiday season!

Click to listen.


Paramount Education and Outreach has been hosting arts classes in three facilities this year as part of a national grant from Aroha Philanthropies!  The goal of the grant is to identify the most effective ways of building skill-building arts programs for those over 55.  Here’s a peek inside each of these classes, where magic is happening.  Teaching artists Ken Ferber and Sandy Fabian are guiding fifteen new clay artisans at Good Shepherd Apartments, Marcelyn Smale and Garrett Lathe are lifting choral voices with over thirty at Benedict Village, and David DeBlieck and Leigh Dillard are leading creative dance at Whitney.  These classes are helping Aroha identify best practices and will impact programs nationwide!

The Paramount, along with project partner, SCSU, were forced to cancel a week-long residency with esteemed Somali performer Aar Maanta.  His residency was to be in St. Cloud from October 14 – 21 and was part of a 30-month Building Bridges grant that is shared in a consortium with Cedar Cultural Center and the University of Minnesota Mankato called Midnimo (Somali word for unity).  This half-million-dollar grant to the three consortium members from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (APAP) seeks to use the power of the arts to inform attitudes toward cultures that are new to us.  Aar Maanta was the third performer to come to St. Cloud as a part of the grant and all was ready to receive him. 

Cancelling has had a drastic impact on several grant components.  There is the research segment with 24 cohort students that needed to begin their work this fall to meet the requirements of the proposal.  There is an education impact, as residency activities had to be canceled at all three area colleges, BGC, and Tech High School, along with a major concert.  There is an economic impact as hotel rooms, caterers, venues, performers, technicians, photographer and advertising contracts all had to be canceled as well.  The table had been set but the feast was no longer available. 

Aar Maanta left his homeland, Somalia, as a result of the war there, a war that also attempted to obliterate a rich tradition of cultural arts.  He’s now a citizen of London.  His band, Urban Legends, and he had visited Cedar Cultural Center twice before with positive impact and had now gone through the complex process of again securing the proper paperwork to make this trip. All were approved by an American consulate. With no explanation, all the band members received their paperwork but Aar Maanta, who is Muslim, did not. The consulate simply said there was a delay.  But the delay went on too long, despite the best efforts of visa/immigration lawyers and Congressional Representative Keith Ellison’s office advocacy, and finally, the consortium had to cancel what was a full month of income for the artist and his band, and three powerful residencies – a week in each site.  In St. Cloud alone, a thousand students would have had the opportunity to learn more, perhaps understand in a new way, heighten their curiosity, raise the level of questioning, and to enjoy some powerful music. 

Ahmed Abdi, a member of the local steering committee, and Jane Oxton, Director of Education and Outreach at the Paramount, are making visits to several of the scheduled classes.  Together they will tell Aar Maanta’s story and share his music, along with the amazing story of Somali cultural arts.  They will also share the story of this significant grant and the power of the arts to help us learn about life, each other, and what makes humanity tick.  A program in another Building Bridges site is being accessed for our cohort to help reduce the impact the cancellation has had on the research component.  While the residency is canceled, creative adaptations will still provide an opportunity to learn and grow and build understanding in our community. 

The Paramount and St. Cloud State University are committed to harvesting all we can with what we have, and begin to plan for the next residency in April, hopeful that wisdom and peace prevail.   


Join us for Autumn Moon 2017 – A Night in New York featuring

American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis!

Friday, September 29
6:00 Pre-Show Reception
8:00 Main Stage Show
Main Floor, Front & Side Balcony: $85
Upper Balcony: $75
When checking out please include in the comments the names of your guests. Your tickets will be at Will Call for pick up the night of the event.
Plus $2 handling/facility fee per ticket.

We are thrilled to share Constantine’s proposed set list for the evening! 



Paramount Center for the Arts has many talented staff members. We would like to feature Jane Oxton, Director of the Education and Outreach program. Jane served on our board from 1999 to 2009. In 2010 she began developing the Education and Outreach program as a part-time consultant until being named director in 2014. Read to learn more about Jane!

What was the main reason for wanting to work at The Paramount?

Since my teaching days at Jefferson Elementary, I recognized the incredible value of the Paramount to this community. Jefferson students came here often to expand their world, develop skills in ways beyond which the school could do on its own, and strengthen teachers in powerful ways.

Serving on the board added a new appreciation for the many services and resources that came to St. Cloud because of the Paramount. But I had this gnawing sense that the arts are of value to all, but not accessible to all. Through this current position, I have been able to help Paramount resources work in order to extend arts impact and touch lives in such compelling ways. Equipping and connecting local artists to share their skills and passion so that our elders, those with disabilities or challenges, new refugees, children with varied learning styles and more can discover or reinforce their creativity and worth has been one of the most satisfying journeys I have had.

Besides that, the Paramount is a wonderful place to work, filled with dedicated, adventurous, kind, creative and hard-working people who share a vision and work as a team. What more could one ask ??

What is the best part of your job?

Watching people discover their abilities and being served by the power of the arts.

When a member of the choir our project sponsors at Good Shepherd says that the choir lifted her from depression, or the 5th grade child says “I get it” during our Math SmARTs dance class, or a husband calls to thank us for the art classes we provided for his wife suffering from memory loss, the teacher who says our Arts Camp for Educators helped reignite her passion or the parent who rejoices that there is a dance class for her child who lives with autism – those moments bring joy beyond measure.

What hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?

Our seven grandkids are a constant source of energy and delight as we attend their many activities and share in their celebrations. I enjoy my little flower garden, a good book on the deck at the lake, morning Sudoku, playing the piano and trying new recipes!

If you could be any person throughout history who would it be?

This is a hard question. I can think of many I might like to be for a day, but a bigger desire for me is someone I would like to have met. My maternal grandfather was a legend in our family, and I long to have known him. He arrived alone from Sweden at the age of 10, homesteaded in Northern Minnesota as a young man, developed a huge farming operation that required 75 horses and many hired hands, raised nine children when his wife died and saw that most of the girls got a college education, and was awarded as one of the first “Farmer of the Year’ in Minnesota. Peter Lindahl is a person I would love to meet and from whom I would learn so much.

What is your favorite quote?

My Mom used to say “Live your life in such a way that when someone says something bad about you, no one believes it.” She also would say “There’s always a way!” and apply it whether the problem was big or small. Both have helped to guide decisions along my life’s pathway.

Arts Camp for Educators and Teaching Artists is underway at the Paramount. An annual joint project of Perpich Center for Arts Education and their District 728 Regional Center, CMAB and the Paramount, thus year’s theme is Expanding Your Teacher Toolbox. Exceptional presenters are sharing ways to make arts accessible to all students, apply arts to math and writing, address cultural differences through the arts and teach to student strengths!  This year’s camp offers a wide range of art applications to help ALLstudents reach high standards. Exciting learning indeed. 

June 9 from 5-9pm

See for a complete list of venues and featured artists. Don’t miss new venues Copper Pony and Body Kinetics Massage and your old favorites like the Paramount Gift Gallery, Visual Art Center and Gallery Saint Germain.




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