Executive director of The O’Shaughnessy creates for — and with — the community

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Thursday, June 22, 2023

Just under a year since she was appointed executive director of The O’Shaughnessy in 2022, Irene Green is already making waves with her exciting vision for the theater. In her position, Green oversees all operations of The O’Shaughnessy building, working closely and strategizing with various departments.

“The other half of the role,” says Green, “is programming, curating what happens in The O’Shaughnessy, and also working with internal and external partners in collaborations to make those dreams come to reality, both on campus and in the community.”

Green has been active in the arts for most of her life, and says the opportunity to work at St. Kate’s drew her attention for its unique commitment to its mission, vision and values, as well as the opportunity to practice art in a new ecosystem. “St. Kate’s has a very strong mission, vision, and values, and … it’s exciting to think about how we can uplift The O’Shaughnessy through that same lens.”

Since it was built in 1970, The O’Shaughnessy has been a steadfast venue for the Twin Cities and Minnesota region, hosting renowned performers and speakers such as The Second City and Coretta Scott King. Green is passionate about continuing to make art accessible, topical, and engaging for the community beyond the campus gates.

“I think The O’Shaughnessy can grow to be even more known over time as the place in Minneapolis-Saint Paul where there is thoughtful, specific art and conversations that reflect and wrestle with what St. Kate’s is all about.” Additionally, she curates O’Shaughnessy programming that will be able to ‘hold hands’ with academic events such as the Katie Leadership Impact, including the latest event in the Women of Color Leadership Series, Courageous Leadership: Our Efforts to Educate Women and Girls in Afghanistan.

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The O'Shaughnessy celebrated International Women's Day with a keynote address from award-winning author Louise Erdrich, the 2023 Bonnie Jean and Joan Kelly Visiting Scholar.

One of Green’s current passion projects is building a cohort of artists and artistic groups who can call The O’Shaughnessy home. Over this past winter, her team released applications to for artist residencies at The O’Shaughnessy. Four of the applying companies have been selected, all of which have had previous experience at The O’Shaughnessy. Green is building a partnership in which The O’Shaughnessy can function as a binding agent for these artists, providing them not only with a venue, but a mutually beneficial relationship in audience development and outreach. These four artistic companies have all been selected for their unique attributes, artistic excellence, and connection to St. Kate’s mission. Green urges the St. Kate’s and Twin Cities communities to stay on the lookout for the cohort roster announcement, coming July 6!

Green is particularly excited about continuing to increase student connection to The O’Shaughnessy, and the conversations she’s begun to have with students. “There are students at St. Kate’s who had robust lives in the arts when they were in high school, and were interested in the arts, and now they’re at St. Kate’s and they’re majoring in whatever they’ve chosen. So how can we keep avenues open for students who are interested in practicing art or having arts in their lives… how can The O’Shaughnessy be part of that?”

The answer, Green believes, lies in programming for — and created by — students and in The O’Shaughnessy as a campus resource for them. “There have been many times…through viewing a live piece of art where I’ve learned about a concept or an idea or a perspective in a way that I don’t think I could have learned in any other medium. I think there’s an opportunity for the live performing arts to play a role in the learning that is happening for students here on campus.”

Green is continuing to ask how students can be more involved with The O’Shaughnessy. She’s spoken to an advisory program that includes students on the upcoming programming, and hopes The O’Shaughnessy lobby will be able to become a study spot on campus. “I want this to be a place where students feel welcome and comfortable, and that they’re excited about.”

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Students rehearse for DNA by Dennis Kelly in the Frey Theater.

Student organizations, such as the theater group Dewdrop Drama Company, are one example of student-directed engagement with The O’Shaughnessy. “Here’s a student group practicing exactly the kinds of stuff that myself and my team are doing every day,” Green says. “That’s the world’s most natural alignment.” The O’Shaughnessy team has taken it upon themselves to support the student theater group, offering resources, advice, and the use of the Frey Theater this spring.

Irene Green, having been with The O’Shaughnessy for just about a year, is brimming with experience and enthusiasm for her work. Looking to the future, she says, “I think at the end of the day, the arts are about creating meaningful experiences that change people’s lives, and the arts are about building community as people come together… There is such an opportunity for us now and in the future to curate work that invites people to have those experiences.”


Original article posting on stkate.edu

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