Impact Report

Jan 2020 - Jul 2021

Video footage © University of Minnesota and © Gian Lorenzo.

When the Crystal Ball Cracked:
A Time of Innovation and Improvisation

Kari SchlonerWhen I think about this last year and a half it plays out very much like a novel in my mind complete with a strong opening, interspersed with a balance of tension and release, joy and sorrow, loss and growth, and culminating in an ending that will leave each of us changed. In March 2020, the world shifted and live performances shut down. It felt like we were making plans based on what we were seeing in a cracked crystal ball, so to move forward, we looked to the firm foundation of our mission to guide us. Northrop’s role as a performing arts presenter at the heart of a great University is that of a connector – creating intersections between arts and education, bringing together artists and audiences, and bridging our inner and outer worlds. That identity as a connector remains constant even as the world around us changes. In fact, it is in times of adversity when we most need the unity, healing, and hope that the arts provide. In telling Northrop’s story over these past 18 months the themes that shine through are those of resilience, fortitude, creativity, and innovation. Ultimately this is a story of people, connection, and the perseverance of the human spirit. Thank you for taking this journey with us. —Kari Schloner, Director of Northrop

Photo © Tim Rummelhoff.

Rooted in the belief that the arts are essential to the human experience

Northop is committed to cultivating intersections between performing arts and education for the benefit of all participants now and for generations to come.

At a Glance

Jan 2020-Jul 2021

199 events cancelled, 64 new online programs created, 239 patrons donated their ticket value

COVID-19: Rising to the Challenge

199 events cancelled, 64 new online programs created, 239 patrons donated their ticket value

Zero employees furloughed

Maintaining Staff

Zero employees furloughed during the pandemic

Eleven dance events, 17 films, three concerts, 41 engagement events

Northrop Presents

Eleven dance events, 17 films, three concerts, 41 engagement events

Eight dance companies commissioned

Creating New Work

Eight dance companies commissioned as part of Northrop Centennial Commissions

14,084 enjoyed online offerings

Participating Online

14,084 Enjoyed online offerings

79 Minnesota counties, 49 states/provinces, and 34 countries

Program Reach

79 Minnesota counties, 49 states/provinces, 34 countries

Ballet dancers dressed in green costumes

Ballet West in Emeralds. Photo © Beau Pearson.

Northrop Presents World-Class Programming

A young ballet dancer on the floor looking at a laptop with a smiling adult

Online Events: Turning Isolation Into Connection

Northrop cancelled its first event due to COVID-19 on Mar 15, 2020. It was through this burgeoning crisis that we found dynamic new ways to support artists and engage with audiences. Our 2020-21 Season included a multi-solution approach to arts programming, shifting our focus to amplifying marginalized voices, deepening campus partnerships, and reaching a wider local and global audience with online content ranging from Zoom workshops and online cast parties, to livestream and pre-recorded performances. We launched a new, more robust and accessible website, added captioning to in-person and pre-recorded programming, and launched new commissioning projects funded in-part by our supporters who donated the value of their in-person tickets.

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“Northrop is taking big leaps. In a time when many people are reluctant to return to theaters and concert halls, [Northrop] is offering a livestream option for every event, up to and including the season finale in May 2021. It has committed to high-quality, multi camera, professional productions. And it has commissioned new work from companies whose appearances were canceled.”

Presenting Art Online

Northrop pivoted its season from in-person to livestream and on-demand events.

Photo still and video footage from the film.

“Perhaps the most indelible images are of the second act of Giselle being danced in broad daylight on a vast Tbilisi rooftop, with the old cityscape as backdrop.”

Alastair Macaulay, former chief dance critic for The New York Times, on the film by The State Ballet of Georgia

Photo still and video footage © Jeff Nohner.

Coming Together: Turning Crisis into Creativity

What a thrill it was to see Northop’s historic organ played by University Organist Dean Billmeyer, with Twin Cities-based PopUp Choir masked and singing on the Northrop stage at the beginning of GALLIM’s evocative new dance film! While we were energized by this innovative pandemic-era collaboration, the haunting opening scene of Northrop’s empty Carlson Family Stage brought tears to our eyes.

Andrea Miller in a black shirt looking through her hands in a square shape

Photo © Anne Michele Mallory

"I am feeling such immense gratitude to Northrop for finding a way to honor our existing work and to creatively keep my administrative team, dancers, and collaborators working during this difficult time. Providing work, a creative outlet, and a means for us to collectively cope has been a gift beyond measure."

– GALLIM founder Andrea Miller

Connecting Dance and Film

Northrop’s imaginative Film Series featured free, award-winning films with artistic voices from around the world, providing deeper insight and context into Northrop’s 2020-21 Dance Series programs.

Turning Cancellations into Commissions

In searching for ways to support artists whose performances were postponed and cancelled because of COVID-19, Northrop developed the Northrop Centennial Commissions program. This initiative supports new dance works through residencies and financial support while creating opportunities for our communities to engage with the artists at the same time that the work is being created. The culmination of this transformational program will occur during Northrop’s centennial anniversary in 2029.

Supporting the University of Minnesota, the Twin Cities community, and more.

U of M Tickets & Events

Provides ticketing services

for all five U of M campuses

Processed 138,369

tickets, registrations, & memberships

Supported 72 U of M departments

& outside organizations

Published 2,066 events for 553 departments

as manager of the Twin Cities Campus Events Calendar since its launch on Jan 13, 2021

51,252 Refunds processed

due to COVID-19

A Space for All Voices

Using the boundless power of arts and education to ignite transformation in each individual, Northrop and U of M student and academic partners proudly presented events and learning opportunities that represent a variety of community voices.

Spotlight Series 2020-21 Polarization and Identities logo

Spotlight Series

For the 2020-21 academic year, the Institute for Advanced Study, University Honors Program, and Northrop, collaborated to present a Spotlight Series of six, free online discussions focused around the timely topic of Polarization and Identities, inspired by both the 2020 presidential election and the polarization that has appeared in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Northrop Gallery Exhibits

The U of M Heritage Studies & Public History Program, Institute for Advanced Study, University Honors Program, and Northrop, featured U of M student curators along with Northrop designers in two important exhibits in the Northrop Gallery: Takeover: Morrill Hall, 1969, telling the origin story of the University’s African American Studies department through the actions of approximately 70 Black students; and Why Canoes? Capacious Vessels and Indigenous Futures of Minnesota's Peoples and Places, honoring the interconnectedness between the Native Canoe Program, U of M students, faculty, staff, and members of three Indigenous communities around Mni Sota Makoce (Minnesota). Why Canoes? is part of the collaborative relationship that Northrop and the U of M are committed to with the sovereign tribal nations of Minnesota. As part of this commitment, beginning in 2020, Northrop now includes a verbal land acknowledgment to the Dakota people at each curtain speech both online and in person.

41 Audio Captions, nine Live Captions, five ALS Interpreter, two Audio Descriptions

41 Audio Captions, Nine Live Captions, Five ASL Interpreters, Two Audio Descriptions

Events with Accessible Services

In 2018, Northrop established its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Squad (IDEAS) whose mission is to research, make recommendations, then facilitate change across several platforms including physical space, digital space, hiring/retention, programming, and audience services. This cross-departmental committee continues to examine and influence Northrop procedure and policies with work including the unprecedented addition of multi-track audio descriptions to Kinetic Light, a hiring guide that promotes equitable recruiting and hiring practices, an accessibility statement, an internal newsletter educating staff on DEI topics, the increased use of program captions, and adding designated ASL seating to events.

students in the theater looking towards the stage

Photo © Tim Rummelhoff.

Northrop Empowers Students

Served 7,468 K-12 students

Served 7,468 K-12 students

Worked with 140 schools, 54 new to Northrop

Worked with 140 schools, 54 of which were new to Northrop

Provided 18 schools 47 buses to two shows providing $9,847 in subsidized fees

Provided 18 schools 47 buses to 2 shows providing $9,847 in subsidized fees

Viewed free and low-cost on-demand dance events: 3,826 students, 97 schools, 24 from greater MN

Viewed free and low-cost on-demand dance events: 3,826 students, 97 schools, 24 from greater MN

Photo still and video footage © Gopher Photo.

Indoor Marching Band Matinee

Fresh off of the first ever sold-out U of M Marching Band matinee performance for grades 3-12 in Nov 2019, this event—featuring The Pride of Minnesota—represents just one of many educational opportunities for elementary and middle school students through the University of Minnesota.

A man sits on a tricycle while spraying a fire extinguisher.

Photo courtesy of UMN College of Science and Engineering.

Opening Our Doors for Science

Have you seen toilet paper fly over Northrop’s theater seats with a leaf blower? 14,646 students did when Northrop opened its doors for 10 performances of The Physics Force, presented by the U of M’s College of Science and Engineering, an annual tradition of entertaining physics demonstrations interspersed with slapstick humor—complete with fire extinguishers and a cannon!

Students walking to a school bus.

Photo © Tim Rummelhoff.

Partnering with Schools & Community Organizations

Access to arts education matters. Northrop is dedicated to providing the opportunity for as many students as possible to experience the performing arts, proudly engaging them in meaningful experiences that expand their worldview and provide the hope and joy the arts offer. 

Students smiling and clapping while seated in a theater.

Photo © Tim Rummelhoff.

In-person Matinees

In Feb 2020, Northrop presented two matinee performances of A.I.M by Kyle Abraham for 3,642 K-12 students from 43 schools. 970 families experienced online and in-person dance performances through Project Success and, with the Minneapolis Public School’s Cultural Experience Program, A.I.M members taught both a technique class and a workshop on dance as identity to a total of 60 students.

A group of dancers in red dresses perform on stage.

Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE in Grace. Photo © Julietta Cervantes.

Making Distance Learning Accessible

When COVID-19 forced students into isolated distance learning, Northrop made it a priority to expand its reach to include new schools in greater Minnesota and the Midwest, as well as re-engage with past educational partners. We provided world-class online arts education experiences that included on-demand options to fit school schedules, and included beautiful online study materials that met Minnesota English Language Arts standards. 

Streaming Together

When the middle school teachers from Marcy Open School were unable to continue their annual tradition of walking their students to Northrop’s in-person matinee, each teacher simultaneously streamed the Ronald K Brown/EVIDENCE matinee to all 360 students to recreate a collective sense of community.

Taking Class with a Legend

1,493 attentive students participated in the online Ronald K Brown/EVIDENCE matinee, and 40 high school dance students attended a free Zoom class led by Artistic Director/choreographer Ronald K. Brown!

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“Our 5th grade classes just watched the performance—it was great! We missed the thrill of getting on the bus, entering the theater and cozying into the plush velvet seats but everything else was a joy! Thank you for making this opportunity available.” —Teacher, Falcon Heights Elementary School

A man holds a microphone on stage with a line of dancers behind him.

Photo courtesy of Kutztown University.

Bringing Arts to Twice as Many Schools

Northrop surpassed our average in-person matinee attendance when presenting the Dance Theatre of Harlem’s The Art of Ballet to 2,333 5-12 graders from 73 schools in greater Minnesota and Western Wisconsin—doubling the number of our participating schools!

Northrop is proud to serve as an intersection for arts, culture, and education, where U of M students gather for dance performances, lectures, concerts, film screenings, and other arts-related events—as well as convocations, graduations, and other student ceremonies and activities. When the world shifted, Northrop discovered new ways to prioritize students and create meaningful experiences with our campus partners.

By the Numbers

4,987 free & discounted tickets

issued for Northrop events

5,518* rehearsed, studied, & lounged

at Northrop (*through Mar 13, 2021)

79 students employed

at Northrop

79 attended

a free Northrop organ class

$14,523 in ticket value

Photos © Tony Nelson.

An Extension of Campus Life

Northrop’s building is usually buzzing with students who gather in the space to study, grab a coffee, meet friends, host a study session, and even juggle in the high-ceilinged lobby! When COVID-19 quieted our campus, we took the opportunity to welcome classes from the School of Music into our many unexpectedly empty spaces—including the Northrop stage.  In May 2021, Northrop once again partnered with the School of Music to present the DMA Organ Recital for Ju Young Lee as an in-person, livestream and on-demand event free of charge.


In Mar 2021, Northrop’s Engagement Team transformed its Push-4-Art program into the digital contest Click-4-Art, featuring an online gallery where U of M student art could be enjoyed and voted on by their peers—awarding prizes to the entries that received the most votes, and offering the viewers a creative respite from schoolwork.

Students watching a laptop in a study lounge

Copyright © 2019 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Northrop in the Classroom

Northrop Across Campus encourages U of M faculty and staff to incorporate Northrop Season online and in-person events into the classroom by providing complimentary tickets for entire U of M classes; connecting various departments and courses with a customized guide of performance information, links to resources, and discussion topics. Students taking courses including European History, Hip Hop, and Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, were able to enhance their classroom curriculum with Northrop's performing arts series.

Pop-Up Libraries

In another innovative partnership highlighting U of M experts and assets, the University Libraries created three in-depth virtual Pop-Up Libraries of curated resources connecting Northrop programming with intersectional related content to make deeper connections and expand learning. These resources, titled “Dance and Music on the Map,” have been shared with a wide network of library colleagues, magnifying the impact of this work on a national scale.

Students build a large model of a molecule

Photo © Jennifer Taylor.

Outreach through Science and Art

As part of Northrop’s ongoing partnership with student group Outreach through Science and Art, human-sized replicas of the three gemstones highlighted in Ballet West’s 2020 production of Jewels were displayed in the lobby, showing the art of science to scale in real life. This partnership also moved online in 2020 with an OSA website about human migration created to complement GALLIM's dance film BOAT.

A group of students participate in a dance class.

Photo © Tim Rummelhoff.

Northrop Strengthens Community

Northrop brings the arts beyond the walls of our organization into our communities to provide mutually inspiring engagement experiences at many levels.

5,087 participants in 41 engagement events

5,087 participants in 41 engagement events

400+ families attended dance performances through Project SUCCESS

400+ families attended dance performances through Project SUCCESS

700+ free tickets provided to Metro Library smARTpass program

700+ free tickets provided to Metro Library smARTpass program

Eight community partners

Collaborated with 8 community partners

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Amplifying Solidarity includes multiple elements highlighting the importance of the Black Lives Matter Movement while encouraging students to educate themselves and take a stand against systemic racism.
The Minnesota Daily

Lady Midnight. Photo © Teddy Grimes.

Inspired by the cataclysmic events that united us last summer, Northrop replaced its decades long in-person summer Music on the Plaza performances with a program of free livestream concerts from the Northrop stage. Amplifying Solidarity was a new collaboration between Northrop, Radio K, Weeks of Welcome, Multicultural Student Engagement, and The School of Music that used the power of music and art to lift the voices of marginalized people, and to send a message of welcome to our community both on and off campus. The series featured the film, A Breath for George created by New Dawn Theatre, and performances by Twin Cities artists: DJ Keezy, Christopher Rochester Project, Sapphire, and Lady Midnight.

Ragamala Rooted Residency

Due to COVID-19, Twin Cities-based Bharatanatyam dance company Ragamala and Northrop reimagined their Ragamala Rooted residency, resulting in an inventive offering of free monthly engagement activities. These partnerships with U of M departments and community members reached new audiences and created additional entry-points for existing audiences. Events included an in-person and livestream yoga class, a Bharatanatyam class for middle school students, a panel about end of life rituals whose members featured faith and community leaders, an online cooking lesson with award-winning Twin Cities chef Raghavan Iyer, a conversation with renowned essayist Pico Iyer, and a discussion about BIPOC Women artists who lead.

Zoom call with 6 smiling artists talking with Programming Director

Swing Out Residency

Our Swing Out residency included a month-long Artistic Exchange, a Solo-Jazz Dance class, a Meet the Artists panel, and a Spotlight Series discussion: Identities and Creative Processes, celebrating the passion and power of the African-American born dance form—the Lindy Hop.

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I definitely have a new expanded vision on the music and the dance. I feel like I've been contaminated with the joy and love of it. I hear the music differently; I see the dance differently." 
—Mai Le, Artist Exchange participant

Screen shot of two people on a Zoom call, smiling with beverages

Online programming allowed us to provide our audiences with a chance to be an insider! We invited them into a New York dance studio to observe how an Artistic Director creates a piece during an open rehearsal with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. GALLIM’s Andrea Miller hosted four virtual Happy Hours with arts luminaries discussing the evolution of dance; its joys and its challenges. RUBBERBAND founder and Artistic Director Victor Quijada provided a window into his creative process with a workshop about making dance for the camera. As part of his company’s Northrop residency, Artistic Director and choreographer Ronald K. Brown taught a free community dance class coaching students of all ages and abilities in real time on Zoom, and invited Northrop donors to an online post-show EVIDENCE cast party, where they could feel that special behind-the-stage energy, interacting with the dancers “in person'' after their live performance at the Joyce Theater.

Audience members standing and applauding.

American Ballet Theatre performance. Photo © Jayme Halbritter Photography.

Together Again

Postscript: Jul 10-11, 2021

One year, four months, and eleven days after Northrop's last live presentation of a dance company for an in-person audience, Northrop was one of eight cities nationwide to present American Ballet Theatre in ABT Across America.  Enthusiastic audiences filled the lawn with their picnic blankets and chairs in front of ABT's 40' x 76' stage (that unfolded from an 18-wheeler semi-truck!), at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, in anticipation of experiencing America's National Ballet Company under the prairie sky. Reporters from Ovation TV, The New York Times, and many others, lined up to tell the story of this return to live dance performances. But it was the crowds of fans, numbering 4,000, with their smiles, cheers, standing ovations—and a few joyful tears—who best reflected the depth of feeling that comes from experiencing live arts—together.

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If we have learned anything from our time in isolation and quarantine, closed doors and ghostlit stages" wrote attendee and reporter Pamela Espeland from MinnPost, "it's that we're more alive, more aware, more open to emotion in each other's presence.

Photo still and video footage © Sky Candy Studios Michael Welsh.

Thank You for Keeping the Arts Alive

Northrop’s story over these recent months is one of community, innovation, strength, and survival. Today we need the support of our friends and patrons more than ever before to keep the arts alive, onstage, online, and in our communities. Thank you to our loyal, generous, and committed supporters who recognize and honor the importance of Northrop in the arts, on campus, and in the community. From the remarkable number of patrons who donated the value of their tickets when programs were first cancelled to the ongoing sustained gifts from you and our community partners, Northrop is honored to continue to offer mission-critical programming that touches lives.

Your donations and support make a world of difference.

To learn more about making an impact with your donation, sponsorship, or other financial support of Northrop, please contact Director of Development Cynthia Betz at 612-626-7554 or