Performing Arts Nonprofit Opens Space at Southdale Center

by | Aug 2023

A black and white photo of a performer at, a new nonprofit performing arts venue at Southdale Center.

Photos: Chris Emeott

A new Southdale Center showcase offers performances, a recording space and more.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Introducing, a non-profit performing arts venue, production studio, art gallery and meeting space dedicated to serving youth, artists and community members at Southdale Center in Edina.

According to the Minnesota State Arts Board, 67 percent of Minnesotans attended an arts activity (at a theater, auditorium, concert hall, museum, gallery) within the past year. On top of that, 95 percent of Minnesotans believe the arts are an important or essential part of the overall education of Minnesota children (e.g., classes in music, writing, dance, art, and drama). But for those looking to practice their craft, opportunities can be limited.

After watching so many talented friends move away to big cities on either coast to pursue big dreams, Lauren Verhel set out to create an opportunity for artists to achieve those dreams right here in the Twin Cities. “As talent left the Twin Cities market, there were fewer and fewer resources for those looking to pursue their chosen art form,” says Verhel.

What started as a pop-up showcase now has a permanent space at Southdale Center where parking is abundant and opportunities are endless. The venue includes everything necessary to perform, record, connect, learn and grow. Each Thursday, Verhel and her partner, David Fugate, host the Original Music Showcase, a weekly music discovery showcase featuring musicians performing their original songs, recorded at their venue.

“Our show not only provides an opportunity for local musicians to perform in front of a new audience, it also provides our video and audio producers, comprised of volunteers and student interns, with tangible and valuable experiences in producing high-quality creative content,” says Verhel. “Performers are featured in edited and audio-mastered versions of each of their original songs and interview segments from their performances, which they can share across social networks to further promote their careers as performing artists.”

The space caters to those just starting out, as well as to those who have worked in the industry for years. is open to anyone with a passion they want to pursue and operates on a strictly volunteer basis. Internships are available to those who want to get involved and gain experience, perhaps in video production or sound engineering to name a few.

Those individuals looking to take advantage of the space, either to create their art or enjoy the entertainment, have two membership options:
1) a single membership at $20 a month
2) a family membership for 2+ individuals at $40 a month.

Artists receive 100 percent of financial contributions made to them.

For those actively involved with the space, is reminiscent of an earlier era—the days of Keith “Keito” Brown who found his way into the music industry in 1989 when a record deal fell into his lap. As an experienced artist, he understands the importance of testing and retesting your material and Verhel has created a space to do just that in the heart of Edina. “This space lights a fire in me,” Brown says. “I want the world to know that Minneapolis is still a hub for music, creation and hits.”

Chanel Dela Cruz, a songwriter and performer, first learned about in its early days of as a pop-up showcase. She was still a student at McNally Smith College of Music. Shortly after the school closed, Verhel reached out to her with an opportunity to perform a 20- to 30-minute set in front of a live audience. “The pop-up events were such an amazing experience. People came for the food and drink, as much as the entertainment,” says Dela Cruz.

In addition to showcasing her talent in front of an audience, the performance was recorded which provided Dela Cruz with much needed content to build her personal brand and professional career. “Lauren was incredibly supportive. She offered opportunity and accepted help, which allowed everyone involved to learn and grow together,” says Dela Cruz. “But the most valuable part of the experience for me is the connections I’ve made, both in Minnesota and across the country. Those connections allowed me to record my first single.”

If you’re wondering about the name, it is the result of the chosen format for the original showcase. With two performers HERE, one performer THERE (somewhere remote) and one LIVE interview … the brand created itself with a lot of room for artistic expression along the way.

Whether you have a passion for performing and need a venue to practice your craft or want to enjoy some local entertainment, stay tuned for the following opportunities to support

Free movie screenings
Classic open mic night
Regular comedy series

To learn more about, visit To see past performances, check out their YouTube channel.


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