Just when all the Minnesota presenters thought it was safe to go back into the auditorium, the unrest in the world has driven up gas prices, grocery prices and suddenly entertainment is relegated to the backseat again.

As the executive director of the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault, I have struggled through the programming process like every other director. First it was the uncertainty of how long the pandemic would last, then it was the fear that one of the strains of COVID would be even more dangerous and contagious than the first, or that dreaded mask and proof of vaccination decision that was bound to make someone angry no matter what. Most recently it has been the squeeze on the wallets of our patrons.

The blessing has been that most people still value live entertainment and are feeling safer being indoors sans mask. At the end of January 2022, the Paradise had a sold-out show with almost 300 people enjoying the Buddy Holly dance party. I was ecstatic! Finally, after almost 2 years we were finally seeing the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Then, in March I had to make the difficult decision to cancel two back-to-back weekend shows because of the lowest ticket sales I’ve ever seen. The struggle and uncertainty is real.

It never dawned on me that it might be because of the war in Ukraine, but when my friend and I were talking about how expensive groceries are and how much we have reduced our travel because of gas prices, I knew that my dear friend, “Live Entertainment”, was suffering the most.

Most people understand that the shows any executive director books are finalized many months before the show happens. We hedge our bets that the economy, the health and wellness of the nation, and the desire to gather will be in the best situation to support the toe tapping programming that we are offering. We hold our breath and pray for the best. We hope that we are offering programming that is unique and thought provoking as well as entertaining enough for our patrons so we can pay the bills for our organization.

I know that if I had to pick between groceries, gas or Patsy Cline, I’d pick Patsy every time… then again maybe that’s why they call me “Crazy”. The bottom line is that I get it. I understand that money is tight. However, if you have some extra to spend, I encourage you to remember your local art center and support the arts in Minnesota.


Heidi Nelson is the executive director of the Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault. 

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