Less will become more when The Garage reopens this summer — hopefully in July — as an all-ages music venue and music-education center.
The Garage, housed in Burnsville’s old maintenance facility across from City Hall, opened in 1999 as a city-run youth center, with homework help, after-school activities and local concerts on Friday and Saturday nights. It was well attended and, mostly, well-liked.
Last January, though, the city decided it didn’t particularly want to be in the business of designing after-school programs or managing a youth center. The Garage became part of the Burnsville Youth Collaborative (BYC), a partnership between School District 191, the city and the YMCA, and the reimagining began.
Here’s what has evolved. The homework help and extracurricular and after-school activities are now housed at Nicollet Junior High School. The Garage, come July, will be operated by a new nonprofit called Twin Cities Catalyst Music.
Construction delays hindered a planned reopening of the facility this spring. The cafe area, which will serve simple food and soft drinks at music events, is being updated and renovated. The restrooms are being expanded.
But what city officials and supporters of The Garage are most excited about is the development of a recording studio, which can be used by local bands and choirs as well as students learning the music industry.
Jack Kolb-Williams said Twin Cities Catalyst Music has been “a labor of love” for him for the past two years. The first goal was gaining operational control of The Garage; the next to “breathe new life” into the facility and hopefully continue it for another 15 years, Kolb-Williams said.
“We definitely want to maintain a strong presence and strong relationship with the local community,” said Kolb-Williams, who is executive director of Twin Cities Catalyst Music. “A lot of bands, high school, early college, don’t have the opportunity to perform. They’ll come and perform on our stages.”
The weekend concerts by student-musicians, local garage bands and touring artists, will continue to be all-ages events. No alcohol will be served.
In collaboration with the school district, students will be able to learn to play the guitar, drums, piano. They can learn to coordinate events and book bands. They can learn how to run the sound system.
For those less musically inclined, there will be photography and writing for Garage Music News. Right now, that’s an online blog; Kolb-Williams hopes it can be a print product by July.
Ticket sales, plus fees from music lessons will help support the facility, along with grants and donations. By the 2016-17 school year, the district hopes to offer curriculum-based music education courses and sound and recording classes at The Garage, too.