Since moving off Main Street in Hopkins, the former Main Street School of Performing Arts (MSSPA) has adopted a new name along with its new home in Eden Prairie. The 2017–2018 school year is the first students will attend classes at the new Performing Institute of Minnesota arts school (PiM), located at 7255 Flying Cloud Drive.
“PiM feels professional,” says 11th grader Ariel Bodnar-Klein. “PiM has managed to bring the enjoyable quirks of MSSPA into the new space, but not excessively. … The most appreciated attribute of this space is that PiM has its own performance spaces. As an arts school, this seems a necessary component of any building we may have.”
At the former MSSPA location, students performed at venues throughout the Twin Cities. Now, students can use the added amenities in the renovated building, which includes new dance studios and two new labs for additional majors in Visual and Media Arts.
John Mark Hostetler highlights the theater’s performance stage with 300 moveable seats. Hostetler was a graduate of MSSPA and now works at PiM in outreach and marketing, as well as teaching dance. “It’s a very flexible space, so all the seating can be moved around. If we have an artist that comes in and says, ‘I want to create a show in the round,’ we can do that. Or we can take out all the seats and have a standing room rock concert. So basically, we get to look at, ‘What is the show?’ And what kind of experience do we want to create for the audience?”
PiM warmly opens its doors to partners in the community. “PiM is most excited about partners that can enrich our students and the community in an artistic way,” says Rob Thompson, director of communications and development. “PiM is proud to have Black Label Movement under the direction of Carl Flink as our Resident Dance Company, and TradeMark Theater, an emerging artist company dedicated to new work, as our Resident Theater Company.”
Along with the outside arts-infused enrichment from the community, there is a buzz of creative activity happening within PiM’s own walls during the academic school day. With 300 students and 40 staff members in the school, educators teach core classes including math, English, social studies and science, as well as arts-focused majors spanning theater, dance, instrumental music and more.
“The education I receive here definitely aligns with my future goals,” Calvin Melloh, a senior at PiM, says. “I want to attend the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities as a political science major, and the academics at PiM fully meet the expectations set by the liberal arts college.”
Maureen Tesch, mother of senior Christian Tesch, says, “I appreciate that my children have the opportunity to focus on their area of interest while going to school. They don’t have to separate the two. Although other schools offer arts classes as part of their curriculum, they may not be able to devote as much time to developing and enhancing their performance skills.”
“All of the PiM Arts High School performances and gallery shows are open to the public,” Thompson says. (The event calendar is on the website.)
“The performances we regularly put on improve the general public's welfare by exposing people to art and culture," Melloh says. "Even more important, the content in our art is often politically or socially provoking, opening people's minds to think outside their own constraints. This is what art does, and this is what we do as an arts high school.”
Room to Grow
There are more exciting plans in store for PiM. “We are in a campaign to raise funds to build a 500–700 seat auditorium to provide our students with a state-of-the-art large venue for presentation,” says Rob Thompson, director of communications and development. “This is an ongoing campaign, and we are looking at a three to five year process.”