The creative force who helped establish Minneapolis' Cedar Cultural Center as a world-renowned showroom for a rich range of high-quality music has resigned. Bill Kubeczko's last day as artistic director was Friday.
"I feel the pressure to put on my kind of programming in these times is difficult," Kubeczko said Monday. "It's not like a resignation; it's more like moving on. I am extremely proud of my work during my 15 1/2-year tenure at the Cedar."
Cedar executive director Rob Simonds said Monday that Kubeczko had a stressful job but that "he was in here this morning, and he was beaming."
For years, Kubeczko was the Cedar's lone employee, working as many as 80 hours a week. Now the nonprofit arts group employs 16 full- and part-timers, plus several contract workers. Its budget has gone from $40,000 to more than $1 million, and it presents more than 160 shows a year. The devaluing of the U.S. dollar has made it more challenging to bring in international acts, one of the Cedar's hallmarks.
The 500-seat Cedar has presented a remarkably diverse range of music -- from folk legends (Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley) and rock stars (Ryan Adams, Ani DiFranco) to international superstars (Ali Farka Toure, Cesaria Evora) as well as dozens of local musicians who have had album-release parties there.
Simonds said the 20-year-old center, which is closed in July and August, is "almost completely booked" for September, with events scheduled through May 2009. To find a new artistic director, he will "put out the word nationally" but said the Twin Cities has "a rich music community with knowledgeable people."
Kubeczko said he has no concrete plans other than to work in his garden, listen to the birds sing and attend the Billy Bragg and Bill Frisell concerts at the Cedar.