About Us

As the Midwest’s largest nonprofit dance complex, The Cowles Center offers the local arts community the dance-centric facility it needs to flourish. By providing nine rehearsal studios, three theaters, and administrative office space for small-to-midsize arts organizations, including two of Minnesota's premier dance schools, The Cowles Center ensures that local artists can thrive and still call Minnesota home. The Cowles Center is located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis’ theater district, making it easily accessible by bus, light rail, or private transportation.

The Cowles Center is not only rich with artistry, but also history. The Center permanently connects two of downtown Minneapolis' most historic structures, the massive eight-story Masonic Temple, which originally opened in 1888, and the 1910 Schubert Theatre, the oldest operating theater in downtown Minneapolis. Since opening in 2011, The Cowles Center has welcomed more than 1,000,000 audience members, students, and artists through its doors. The historic campus has become a dynamic hub of creativity, innovation, education, and diversity—resulting in a vibrant arts community for us to live, work, and play. The Cowles Center makes it possible to:

    • Offer free arts-infused education programs to Minnesota schools. With dwindling arts funding available to area schools, more districts are turning to The Cowles Center for creative solutions. By integrating movement into traditional curriculum, tomorrow’s leaders cultivate creative problem-solving skills, build confidence, learn to work as a member of a team, and develop the scientific imagination. By bringing The Cowles Center into schools, we are able to remove the barriers of cost and transportation, which prevents many schools from being able to provide high-quality arts learning opportunities for their students.

    • Make dance a viable profession in our state. The Cowles Center subsidizes major expenses for more than 36 local dance companies each year. In addition to the administrative and studio space offered to artists at 50% below market value, the companies featured in The Cowles Center's Performance Season pay no upfront rental fees for use of the theaters. The cost of marketing materials, paid advertising, and box office staff are also fully absorbed by The Cowles Center. These subsidies allow dance companies to place their focus on creating rather than funding—filling the Twin Cities' dance community with work that is dynamic, challenging, and surprising.

    • Raise the curtain on students’ first live dance performance. The Cowles Center’s Student Matinee program hosts thousands of K-12 students each year for their first professional dance experience. While attending a performance during the school day, students are encouraged to be active participants in their field trip by moving their bodies either from their seats or the stage. Dance companies further engage with the students after the performance with a Q&A session.

    • Administer world-class training for dancers, dance educators, and choreographers. From beginner to professional, students ages 3–85 come to The Cowles Center to create, learn, perform, and celebrate the art of dance. But the training doesn’t stop in the rehearsal studio. The Cowles Center is home to the prestigious McKnight Fellowships for Dancers and Choreographers, which awards mid-career dancers and choreographers fellowships to develop new projects and deepen their craft. Community trade-off sessions are also offered at The Cowles Center for dancers to exchange knowledge on training, artistic decisions, funding opportunities, health/nutrition, and more.