The cast of Broadway Showstoppers (2012), Arts Garden's first community theatre production (photo courtesy of Jill Whitney Birk)
Arts Garden was founded in 2012 by Jill Whitney-Birk. Its purpose was to provide arts opportunities for all ages and experience levels in Hugo, MN and the surrounding area - a location that desperately needed the influence of local arts. Arts Garden believed that involvement and exposure to the arts facilitated personal growth and confidence building, fulfillment, enjoyment, and a sense of community.
Jill at her Maplewood Mall storefront in August 2016 (photo courtesy of Jack Richter)
Arts Garden was about more that just theatre. While doing four theatrical productions a year, Jill supported Arts Garden's work by providing the community with arts classes at local schools and assisted living centers, visitings craft fairs, as well as opening a pop-up art experience center called Art-4-All.
Cast of Fiddler on the Roof (2014)
In the summer of 2014, Arts Garden began partnering with Calvary Church to produce summer musicals in Roseville MN as a part of RoseFest. These shows, directed by Jill Whitney-Birk, were supported by members of both the Calvary Church and Arts Garden community. Their first production, Fiddler on the Roof, was a huge success. Every year on, Arts Garden has partnered with the city of Roseville to continue bringing outdoor community theatre to RoseFest.
Cast of Alice in Wonderland (2021)
In 2021, Jill retired and left Arts Garden in the hands of Kati Hoehl, Amy Stauter, and Shannon Johnson. Together, the three of them turned Arts Garden from an art enrichment program to a fully fledged 501(c)3 non-profit community theatre.
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