The lively entertainment scene around the Twin Cities and suburbs is one of the reasons this area is a great place to live. As a neighbor said to me when I was first moving here, “there’s always something to do.”

As a news organization, we’ve long invested many resources into covering this rich arts and entertainment scene, from the nightclubs to the State Fair and beyond. We have more than 12 staffers dedicated to writing about movies, concerts, plays, restaurants, books, and other forms of entertainment. This team knows the entertainment scene better than any other media organization in Minnesota, and works hard to bring it to you.

But when you just want to know your options for going out on an average Saturday night, it used to be difficult to find that information in one spot unless you had our print listings handy. This year, we set a goal of making it easier for people to simply have fun, and our solution starts with a new app we just released for smartphones called Going Out.

Here, you can find a list of restaurants, movies, theater, comedy shows, concerts, museum exhibits, family festivals and more, searchable by location. When you find a restaurant you want, you can make a reservation. The movie channel allows you to buy tickets. Find an event you like, and you can add it to your calendar with the push of your finger.

This project took a major investment of resources. We already had a large database of events for print, but we needed to rebuild that database, expand it and make it more accessible for digital. We wanted the app to be intuitive, easy to use, and as helpful as possible. The design needed to be clean and elegant. The design team took several swings at a look for the app before we settled on the one you will find today.

The result, we think, speaks for itself. We’re pleased to offer this new service to our readers and other consumers in the greater metro area. We think it will make your life just a little easier. We have other stages to this project as well. In the coming months, we plan to build a new home-page module for our website that makes it easier for users to plan ahead for the weekend. We’ll make it equally easy to find event listings throughout the site.

All of this is part of our commitment to provide readers with complete coverage of the metro region and to be of service to you in your day-to-day lives.

Many times, our work involves writing about the most serious of issues: Unemployment, Ponzi schemes, major crimes, political feuds, small and large business issues. That coverage sometimes obscures the fact that our mission is also to reflect and help readers understand take advantage of the richness of arts and entertainment options.

I encourage those of you with smartphones to download our new app, explore the offerings, and go on out and have some fun. Life is short.


Nancy Barnes is editor of the Star Tribune. Follow her on Twitter @nancycbarnes.