History

In 1980, Saint Paul resident Sally Ordway Irvine challenged her community to help her create a performing arts venue in which her dream of offering “everything from opera to the Russian circus” could be realized. She set an example by making the first donation to a fund that eventually built Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

By the time the $46 million center opened to the public on January 1, 1985, Sally had contributed $7.5 million—and her family had matched that amount. Certainly, Sally’s vision is alive today as the Ordway, Minnesota’s Premier Performing Arts Center®, presents a dizzying schedule of theater, dance, music, family events, and educational programs.


The Ordway currently contains the 1,900 seat Music Theater; two large rehearsal halls, and magnificent lobbies on each floor, including the second floor Marzitelli Foyer, a spacious, two story lobby encircled by a glass facade. In the spring of 2013, construction began on an 1,100 seat Concert Hall to replace the McKnight Theatre. Construction will be completed in Spring, 2015.

The Ordway, recognized as one of the U.S.’s leading not-for-profit performing arts centers, is home to a wide variety of performances throughout the year that encompass the finest in American musical theater, world music, dance, and vocal artists on its Music Theater stage. In addition, each year the Ordway presents its Flint Hills International Children’s Festival and serves over 50,000 children and adults through its Ordway Education programs. Since the Ordway opened, it has become known as Saint Paul’s most elegant and inviting performance space, attracting audiences from throughout the region to its diverse range of presentations. The Ordway joins The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, The Minnesota Opera, and The Schubert Club in a unique Arts Partnership and provides a home to its Arts Partners. The Ordway is proud to sponsor the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a professionally guided academic and artistic environment serving students in grades nine through twelve.

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