Steve Richardson, a 1986 graduate of Carleton, returned to his alma mater this past fall after a hugely successful run at Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis as producing director, helping that organization win a Tony Award in 2005. He is Carleton’s new Director of the Arts.
What Carleton experiences led you on your professional path as an arts administrator?
My liberal arts experience taught me to be open everything and question everything. My work at Theatre de la Jeune Lune was about figuring out what the rules were and then when to break them. We were totally open to opportunities that came along, but the openness I gained here led to that attitude.
What’s the best part about being back at Carleton?
The best part is being in the middle of a bunch of incredible, driven, smart people that are working on great projects. It’s great to be back in the mix where everyone has an opinion, everyone is really visionary, but it does cut both ways!
Describe your position to us.
Some of what I’ve been doing is just talking with people and figuring out what’s going on at Carleton in the arts, which is a lot. There is a lot of work being made, many performances and a lot of collaborations that is happening. Moving on from there, once we get into the new facility it will be building the story of what the arts are at Carleton. It’s really about telling the story about what the arts means at Carleton. We need to make it clear that there are great things happening here at Carleton. We have to find those connections and celebrate them. We also need to connect the Twin Cities arts community to the college and the Northfield community and beyond to the College. We’ll have a chance to open up to a lot of opportunities.
In what ways do you see community members being able to engage through this new facility?
It could be a great outpost for the College that’s an almost permeable building for the community to engage Carleton. There will be the art museum that will be right on the park, there will be performances, there will be an atrium with some sort of café. Hopefully, it will be an invitation to people to be a part of it and experience it. We’ll want to fill the building with experiences that are interesting. It’s a community space and academic space for the College, but the work will be exciting for community members to engage, so we’ll need to figure how to make it work for the College and the community.
Tell us more about the Arts Union and the vision behind it.
The vision for this building is to be a workshop. It’s not a shiny, fancy performance arts center. It’s a building where work is made and where artists are in collaboration with one another. This is going to be a working facility populated by students, faculty, artists and community members. What that’s going to look like, I don’t have the answer yet, but it’s a great recipe to put studio art, art history, cinema and media studies, English, dance, theater all together in one space.