CSB’s Benedicta Arts Center
The new Benedicta Arts Center facilities were finished summer 2006 to celebrate new spaces and enhance existing ones. On November, 27, 1962, the Sisters of Saint Benedict broke ground for the largest performing arts facility in Central Minnesota. In the summer of 2005, their vision was expanded as the College of Saint Benedict broke ground for new spaces to augment this beautiful facility. The BAC has extended Benedictine hospitality to over a million patrons over the past 42 years, bringing the finest visual and performing artists into our community from its opening concert with the Minnesota Orchestra to performances by Diavolo and Merce Cunningham this season.
Reflecting the centuries-old Benedictine tradition of fostering the arts, the Benedicta Arts Center has been the premiere educational and cultural resource serving Central Minnesota since 1965. It serves the dual purpose of demonstrating the importance of the arts in an academic liberal-arts environment as it extends the college’s resources into the civic community. The departments of art, music and theater thrive in the well-planned instructional facilities and share with professional touring companies and community organizations in the utilization of the versatile and fully equipped performance facilities.
The Benedicta Arts Center annually hosts 200 public events including the college-sponsored Fine Arts Series, including the Minnesota Orchestra; plays, concerts, speakers’ series and other college-produced offerings. The Benedicta Arts Center also operates as a rental house for community events produced by the Minnesota Center Chorale, St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra and other regional groups.
A professional staff manages the variety of presentations and plans for a balance of offerings. The Fine Arts Series programming reflects the Benedicta Arts Center’s many facets – it offers events which augment the academic needs, explore cultural diversity, entertain, showcase young artists and entice young audience members to become life-long supporters of and participants in the arts.
The BAC's 1,078 seat auditorium was named the Escher Auditorium to honor Sister Firmin Escher, OSB, a member of Saint Benedict's Monastery and an emerita faculty member in the Music Department who passed away June 8, 2009. S. Firmin was an early and forceful advocate for the arts at CSB.
Benedict and Dorothy Gorecki pledged $2.7 million to the Benedicta Arts Center expansion in the Fall 2004. Ben and Dorothy are the president and secretary/treasurer of Gorecki Manufacturing, Inc.. The college is honoring the Gorecki's generosity by naming the BAC's center theater, fine arts gallery and west lobby for them.
Named in honor of former CSB President and Theater Professor Colman O'Connell, OSB, the Colman Theater is considered a "black box". The sears within the theater are movable, enabling the space to be configured to any desired arrangement; from "theater in the round" to a traditional proscenium style set up.
Helgeson Dance Studio
Named in honor of the late Arlene Helgeson, a longtime friend of the college and performing arts, the dance studio and rehearsal space highlights the growing dance program at CSB/SJU and creates wonderful partnership opportunities between the schools and the national dance companies. As a fine arts laboratory space, the studio is used primarily for dance and theater classes and rehearsals. Visiting dance artists also conduct master classes in the studio for students and the community.
Named in honor of the Benedicta Arts Center's Director of Operations, Mary Darnall, and professor emeritus, Tom Darnall, this outdoor theater (lawn seating) allows students to put on more casual performances as well as a more intimate and organic space for summer programming. Various music ensembles also perform at the amphitheater throughout the year, offering students and the public the opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere whie eating lunch or taking a stroll through campus.