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Minnesota-based American Craft Council names next executive director

Above: Sarah Schultz was the Director of Education and Community Programs at the Walker Art Center. Photographed March 28, 2013. (Courtney Perry/Special to the Star Tribune)  

This week the American Craft Council announced Sarah Schultz as the new executive director. She will start work on April 2, just in time for the St. Paul American Craft Show (April 20-22).

A known name around the Twin Cities, Schulz was a long-time employee at the Walker Art Center, working there from 1992-2014 in the positions of director of education (14 years) and curator of public practice (8 years). She launched the Open Field program, which hosts over 100 events throughout he summer in a field near the Walker, and also established the artist-designed mini golf program, among other projects. 

“One of the things I’m keen to do is to create more opportunities for artists and audiences to engage in craft,” said Schulz, when reached by phone in New York. “I’m excited to jump back into the community again and reconnect with artists that I’ve known, and meet new artists."

Schulz will be returning to the Twin Cities from New York, where she’s most recently been the interim vice president of public programs and education for Friends of the Highline in New York City and a visiting curator for Mural Arts Philadelphia. Though not a native Minnesotan, she lived in Minneapolis for 26 years after finishing graduate studies at the University of Minnesota.  

When asked what programs she might be working on, she said that it's "a little premature to launch big projects," but did note that she's especially intrigued by artists that work in the "interstitial spaces between art and craft, design and craft, and even performance and craft."

Founded in 1943 by Aileen Osborn Webb, the American Craft Council relocated to Minneapolis from New York in 2010. 

Flu sidelines piano star André Watts; 23-year-old Minnesotan to step in at Orchestra Hall

Above: Pianist Kenny Broberg, 23, replaces an ailing André Watts at Orchestra Hall this week.

Minnesota Orchestra has announced a last-minute switch for concerts this Friday and Saturday. 

Classical Music Hall of Fame pianist André Watts, an Orchestra Hall favorite for five-plus decades, is sick with the flu and unable to fulfill his soloist duties. Replacing him will be 23-year-old Kenny Broberg, a Minneapolis native (he went to Washburn High School) and winner of the silver medal at the prestigious 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in Fort Worth, Tex.

Everything else about the weekend's program will remain the same: Broberg opens the program with Beethoven's ever-popular "Emperor" Piano Concerto; Finnish conductor John Storgårds presides over Shostakovich's hefty 10th Symphony, the composer's recollection of surviving the Stalin years.

Broberg is unknown to most Minnesota music-lovers, though he made his Minnesota Orchestra debut in 2010 (while still in high school) playing Saint Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals" for a series of family concerts. 

Winning the Van Cliburn is a big deal for the young pianist. Founded in 1962, the Van Cliburn is one of the world's most prestigious piano competitions, attracting high-quality entrants from around the world.

"There will be a lot of pressure on him, substituting on such short notice," said Minnesota Orchestra spokeswoman Gwen Pappas. "But the orchestra will be pulling for him."

Pappas pointed out that Watts launched his career in a similar fashion. "Watts was 16 when he was asked by Leonard Bernstein to replace Glenn Gould, who was sick, in performances with the New York Philharmonic," she said.

Concerts are 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat. at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. Tickets: $12-$111, 612-371-5656 or visit minnesotaorchestra.org.

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