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original Barn Theatre in SW Willmar

from "People Will Say We're in Love" 1968

Don Emhke, Marion Parker, and Don Ahern

 

The Willmar Community Theatre operates as a non-profit community theatre, locally known as “The Barn Theatre.” It provides cultural and artistic entertainment for the public, which includes plays, recitals, orchestral opportunities and drama. The mission of The Barn Theatre is to provide affordable, quality performing arts to west-central Minnesota. The Barn promotes community involvement, affords opportunities for personal growth for its volunteers, displays and develops artistic talent, and provides community leadership for the fine arts.

Willmar Community Theatre is a dynamic, live performing arts theater which was incorporated in Willmar, Minnesota on September 29, 1964 Its volunteer board of directors purchased a nearby horse barn and lot. Community support supplied the labor and supplies to transform the vacant barn into a theater, thus, “The Barn” was born. Three to five summer productions were given annually. In 1984 extensive renovations and improvements were required, which prompted the board to explore other options. During the next four years, space was rented from the Willmar Community College.

In January, 1987 the downtown JC Penney building was renovated into the current site of The Barn Theatre. The new theater opened on June 9, 1988. A winter season was added to the existing summer season, thus six annual shows are presented. A five year lease was signed with an option for four five year extensions.

Through the renovation process, volunteers created an art gallery space. This space displays various original works of regional artists during each production.

A Children’s workshop was started in 1991. The class of 20-30 children in grades 5-8 allowed children an opportunity to participate in all the aspects of theater over a 6-7 week time period. This workshop has produced musicals, and comedies appropriate for children.

The Barn Theatre is nearing its 50th year of offering a wide range of theatrical productions to this area. It is a regional theatre, growing from its original roots of a community theater to a theater that draws from up to and beyond a 60 mile radius. The Barn offers volunteers of all ages an opportunity to participate in all aspects of theater, using their talents to enrich their lives and of the community.

In the spring of 2002, the Barn continued to expand. The building next to the current theater was purchased to provide additional space and to extend programming. The Barn recently purchased the  former Willmar Electric Service building with plans to provide more performing art and visual art programming opportunities for our community!


 


The Barn Theatre
PO Box 342
321 4th St SW
Willmar, Minnesota 56201
320-235-9500

email:
info@thebarntheatre.com

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