Q&A with Executive Director, Bob Johnson

Paramount Theatre & Visual Arts Center Executive Director, Bob Johnson, has a longstanding appreciation of the arts in Central Minnesota. Johnson, a St. Cloud resident of over 20 years, came to The Paramount from a long career in the healthcare industry. With one year under his belt, he’s excited to play a part in creating opportunities for Central Minnesota Arts. Bob calls The Paramount the “living room of the community.” It’s a place where people can be inspired, entertained, educated and connected.

You’ve been at The Paramount a little over a year; what is your impression so far?
I’ve always loved the Paramount and the concept of arts and culture being inextricably linked to the entire community. This place is bustling with activity for all ages, genders, cultural and ethnic backgrounds and we have an outreach program that touches students, teachers, seniors, nursing home residents and many others. I believe, to some degree, that this is one of  the best-kept secrets in Minnesota, even though 80,000 people per year attend some function at the Paramount. That number could and should double. Hopefully, our team can develop tactics and strategies to make that happen over the next few years.

What do you enjoy about the St. Cloud area?
I love St. Cloud! The whole community has been good to me and my family. Good educational institutions, good neighbors, good healthcare, local government and lots of leisure activities available. I like the idea that I can run into people I know just about everywhere in town and really enjoy seeing folks at the Paramount.

Have you done any stage work?
In the past (years ago now!) I played a few roles in community theatre productions: Rudolph in “Hello Dolly,” Fagin in “Oliver,” Harold Hill in “the Music Man,” Sir Evelyn Oakley in “Anything Goes,” the Narrator in “Into the Woods” and God in “Children of Eden.” Once you play God, any other role is anticlimactic. I’ve enjoyed meeting people, learning the music, lines, more about myself and just getting away from my regular responsibilities. I think being onstage is a great way to understand what it means to walk in someone else’s shoes and can teach all of us to be more tolerant and open to those around us. Though it’s been awhile and life is busy, I do wonder about getting involved in a stage production again in the not-too- distant future.

Do you have a favorite performance that you’ve seen at The Paramount?
Two immediately come to mind: GREAT did “Ragtime” in the fall of 2015 and I thought it was one of the best presentations I’ve seen ever in St. Cloud. Because of the themes and the teachings that come out of the dialogue, music, and interaction of the characters, I really found myself wishing that everyone in the whole community could have seen it. The musical itself presents some of life’s greatest lessons.

My second favorite performance was just this month. Shaun Hopper , a fingerstyle guitarist with added percussive techniques, played all alone on our stage for a couple of hours and was just spectacular. The talent, the musical selections, the variety and brilliance of the arrangements all served to get the audience to their feet a number of times. Again, I wish more people could experience the magic that art and artists can deliver with such ease and grace. It really is life changing sometimes.

How is The Paramount important to the arts in Central Minnesota?
The Paramount is the premier space for presenting in our region. Nearly 100 years old, this place drips of history and talent. In terms of preservation and growth, the Paramount offers unique challenges and has served the public in so many ways for all these years. It really is like our own living rooms where folks laugh, cry, inspire one another, enjoy being entertained and educated, and can connect with others and relax.

What are ways the community can get involved at The Paramount?
Members of the community can support the Paramount first by attending events and having a good time. The arts contribute greatly to the economy of the downtown area yet are not themselves all that lucrative. We need loyal patrons and many of them. Additionally, volunteers are always needed whether for our annual fundraiser, Autumn Moon, to work with kids in the visual arts center , to help sell the work of local artists in the Gallery, or to usher for stage presentations. We love our volunteers!

Lastly, though we have some earned income and apply for multiple grants, we always need contributions from businesses and individuals to keep things going. It can be an expensive and risky proposition to program and put an act on the stage, not being sure of the response. Art is pretty subjective and sometimes we struggle to determine what the public wants. I’d like to invite the public to tell us what they’d like to see on stage and invite them to help us with donations when they can so that we can bring more and more art/entertainment/people and economic vitality to downtown St. Cloud.

I also want to thank those who worked to save the Paramount years ago and all who are supporting it now to ensure it lives on into the future for our children and grandchildren.

Can you tell me about visual arts classes at The Paramount?
There is a wide range of classes offered each season in the Visual Arts Center. One can learn oil painting, ceramics, glass work, weaving and more. I just started a wood turning class this week and having spent so many years “riding a desk,” I really was energized by playing with equipment and scattering sawdust everywhere. On a more serious note, the instructors are great! It’s wonderful to meet new people in class, and I think we’re all a bit surprised when we discover there may be an artist in us. If anyone wants to find out more, they can always go to our website and/or pick up a brochure at the box office and all the information about classes and other offerings is there.

How can you purchase tickets to shows?
Online ticket purchasing is simple and easy. You can pick where you want to sit, print your tickets at home and you’re all set. The website is the starting point. If you’d rather call the Paramount, our box office number is 3202595463. One of our agents will be happy to help you make a purchase and will mail your tickets directly to you.

Willicey Tynes will be exhibiting a small body of work highlighting similarities between Afro-Caribbean culture and Western culture. This is a body of works that speaks to the existing cultures and what they have left behind. Seeking and finding these has been an enlightening experience, showing the loss of a time that once was.
International artist Willicey Tynes is a self-taught oil painter and sculptor. Born in the Bahamas in 1978, Willicey Tynes has been bringing the beauty of the Caribbean to his canvas since childhood.  His fascination with natural surroundings emerged early in his career and this theme is prevalent in his work.  To him, life is not abstract, but real and structured, and this is clearly identifiable in his approach to his pieces.  His choice of medium is oil on canvas, but he has also achieved great results with pencil and pastel. Willicey has always been drawn to the technical aspects of painting but loves the flow and movement of color that is sometimes only achieved by an intuitive approach. With his realistic style of painting, he favors florals, seascapes, and portraits as subject matter. Willicey has taught himself most of what he knows about painting and attributes his ability to having a trained eye and lots of practice. Pushing his limit and challenging himself has led Willicey to sculpting in various mediums such as clay, bronze, and glass. His work has been exhibited throughout the United states in numerous juried shows and extensively in the Bahamas.


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Sponsored in part by Gary and Pat Webber.

The Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center is excited to welcome Kansas to our stage!

Kansas small

Monday August 22,2016 at 7:30pm
Tuesday August 23, 2016 at 7:30pm

Ticket Prices:

Main Floor Rows A-G: $60
Main Floor Rows H-O: $55
Front and Side Balconies: $45
Upper Balcony: $35

Meet the Band!
Are you interested in a meet and greet with Kansas?
The front and center 40 seats (10 per row for the first 4 rows) are available for purchase through TourSync.
Click below to find out more information about everything that comes with the VIP Meet and Greets and purchase those tickets! 

Information & VIP Tickets:

Monday August 22,2016 at 7:30pm
Tuesday August 23, 2016 at 7:30pm

Ceramics 101: An Introduction to the Hand-building Studio
Tuition: Discounted price if registered by February 20: $85.00 (includes your first bag of clay)
Registrations February 21 to start: $95.00 (includes your first bag of clay)
Tues, March 1-15, 6-8:30 pm with Bill Gossman (3 sessions, 7.5 hours of contact)

Create with clay using your hands! This introductory course is perfect for the absolute beginner or artist looking for a refresher on how to use the slab roller, extruder, creating simple forms such as a covered jar using slump and drape molds, creating texture using tools, glazing and more!


LEAF and District 742 present

Night of the Stars

Friday, February 19, 7:00
Saturday, February 20, 7:00

Adults: $16
Students: $6

 Remember to redeem your pre-paid vouchers for show tickets. If you purchased a voucher, you are not guaranteed a seat until you call the box office or go online to reserve your ticket.

Come and see the outstanding talent of District 742 local students as they perform at the historic Paramount. You will be entertained, delighted, and amazed with their performance! It’s a great night out for adults and children of any age. Started in 2002, the LEAF Night of the Stars Variety Show is a fundraiser for the K-12 activities programs in District 742.


Gaelic Storm Coming this July!

Saturday, July 23, 7:30 PM

After nearly two decades and more than 3,000 live shows, Gaelic Storm — the chart-topping, multi-national Celtic band — is looking sharper than ever with their latest release, Matching Sweaters. The new album mixes traditional Irish music with modern influences, creating a sound that’s as wide-ranging as the band’s own audience. From bluegrass fans and country cowboys to Deadheads, rock & rollers and Celtic fanatics, Gaelic Storm has built one of the most diverse fan bases in modern music. Coming to the Paramount for the first time!

Gaelic Storm Website


Justin Ploof and the Throwbacks present Crossroads: The Eric Clapton Story

Saturday, January 23 at 7:30

Justin and the Throwbacks return with a look at the life and work of Eric Clapton! After two previous years of sold out houses here at the Paramount, the Throwbacks return for a third year presenting another of their famous Rockumentaries. With Eric Clapton’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist, he became the first musician to have been inducted three times.  Honored as a member of the Yardbirds, then with Cream and finally as a solo artist in 2000.  While his stints with the groups were relatively brief, Clapton always piloted projects that bore his highly personalized stamp.  As a solo artist, Clapton has brought his singing and songwriting to the fore while maintaining his stature as rock’s preeminent guitarist.  Demonstrating a remarkable resilience, Clapton has managed to establish himself as a vital, hit-making presence in every decade!


The Jerome Ceramic Artist Project: December 11th – January 16th 

The Jerome Ceramic Artist Project Grant program is intended to support the work of Minnesota ceramic artists at relatively early stages in their careers, as they accomplish
short-term, specific objectives.

Artist Bios:

Matthew Krousey created work that explored our vanishing natural habitats. The Jerome award has allowed Krousey to expand his imagery, moving his ideas from pottery to large tiles, where his ideas can grow in breadth.  www.mkrouseyceramics.com

David Swenson makes ceramic works through the assemblage of parts and pieces. He used his Jerome award to purchase a 3D printer and software which will allow him to prototype and imagine works before they are fully realized.

Michael Arnold is a maker of wood-fired, wheel-thrown pottery. He used his Jerome award to research native-Minnesota clays and slip-casting. In addition, he spent his grant year designing and building a wood-fire kiln in Albert Lea, MN. In addition to making pots, Arnold is NCC’s exhibitions manager.

Karen McPherson creates handbuilt vessels for plants. With her award, she looked beyond the usual relationship between plants and ceramics—flowers in a vase—and instead, incorporated plant forms onto the surface of the work itself. www.karenmcphersonclay.com

After recently receiving her MFA from the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, Ginny Sims has been teaching ceramics at different centers and schools throughout the Midwest. She used her Jerome award to transfer decorative motifs onto majolica-based surfaces, placed in an installation setting. www.ginnysims.com

Coming in February!

14 Grammy Awards, 8 CMA Awards, 13 IBMA Awards, Billboard’s Artist of the Year and Artist of the Decade … the list is nearly endless of Ricky’s Awards over his 50+ year career that started at the age of 6.

Buy Tickets Here.

Every holiday season is a time for celebration. As another year comes to a close, it’s also a time when we reflect on our challenges or triumphs, as well as reflecting on those who have taught us some of life’s most important lessons. In “Voices of Christmas,” the men of Cantus combine the words, stories, and wisdom of people from all walks of life with music that is sure to awaken the holiday spirit. Joining carols old and new with holiday favorites (along with Franz Biebl’s transcendent setting of the Ave Maria), spending Christmas with Cantus is a sure way to celebrate the joy and magic of the season.


Sunday December 20, 3:00

Click here to purchase tickets.