A key part of our conceptual rebirth is to name that we are a queer-led organization. This has been a core part of our informal identity since we were founded in 1986 by Patrick Scully, an out gay man living with HIV, but we have for the first time made it explicit.
While we own our queer identity, we recognize that “queering” our world means fighting for justice and liberation for all marginalized communities. We therefore center our work on supporting artists pushed to the margins of society—what we call “the edge of culture”—specifically naming artists of color, with disabilities, and with queer and trans identities as communities we frequently engage.
After nearly closing last year, we have worked to listen closely to our community. We heard some powerful statements about why our work needs to exist, and what would be lost in the Twin Cities arts ecology if we had disappeared. We also thought deeply about our history, and put it into the context of our current cultural moment—which is looking more and more like the conditions that birthed Patrick’s Cabaret three decades ago.
Finally, we have provided answers to some questions we encounter frequently. From “Is Patrick still involved?” to “Why did you move?” we bring some clarity to why and how we operate as we do today.
Patrick’s Cabaret is a queer-led performance art incubator supporting the growth and development of artists on the edge of culture.
Our work centers artists of color, with disabilities, and with queer and trans identities. We grow new art and new artists by encouraging artists of all experience levels to try new things, take risks, and present works-in-progress. We connect artists to education, performance platforms, tangible resources, and to each other, to put their talents to work. We build a diverse network of artists committed to forwarding a radically inclusive and progressive creative community where artists on the margins can thrive.
Why we exist
We believe artists are critical agents for broad community change.
We believe queer identity is a lens through which we fight for justice and liberation for all marginalized communities.
We believe our role in the Twin Cities arts ecology is to support artists who are doing challenging, experimental, subversive and community-driven work that might not otherwise find a home.
How we are unique
Patrick’s Cabaret has amassed a vast and diverse network of artists over three decades.
We are a key point of entry for many emerging artists, and a fertile ground of experimentation for many experienced artists.
We provide frequent and accessible paid opportunities for artists from marginalized communities to make and share their art.
What we offer
Cabaret events - Professional performance events featuring multiple artists under a shared bill presenting their own short-form work, including training and mentorship on promotion
Curatorships - Artists are selected to produce their own Cabaret event, supporting the growth and development of emerging and experienced creative community builders
Raw Material - Artists present new works-in-progress, engage in an on-stage interview about their process, and participate in a critical conversation with the audience
Artist Education & Services - A range of services from documentation, fiscal sponsorship, 1-on-1 career counseling, peer-led professional development trainings, and mentorships focused on making a life as an artist on the edge of culture
Teaching Artist Residencies - Customized workshops and residencies, staffed from the Cabaret’s artist network, to help health/human service organizations empower their members to find and hone their creative voices
Patrick’s Cabaret began in 1986 as a single evening in the basement gymnasium of a Catholic school. Patrick Scully, an out gay man living with HIV, invited other artists to join him in a show of works-in-progress. In the midst of the Reagan Era, the Culture Wars, and some of the darkest days of the AIDS crisis, the evening proved so successful, and the need for a performing venue to support raw, experimental, challenging work so great, that Patrick’s Cabaret grew rapidly into an essential community resource.
For three decades, we have maintained the original formula of presenting a shared evening with artists of mixed artistic disciplines and levels of experience, featuring thousands of performances by hundreds of local artists.
In our current political and social reality, we see the continued need for an organization that supports artists working at the edges of mainstream culture.
In May 2016, we lost our venue, challenging us to do some more radical work directly in the communities we serve. At our core, Patrick’s Cabaret is a concept and a community with resilience written into our DNA. Today, we have an office at ArtsHub West at Intermedia Arts in South Minneapolis. We partner with and share established venues, working with performers and audiences to create exciting and surprising community spaces that fulfill our mission. Recent spaces have included Intermedia Arts, the Fox Egg Gallery, the TEK BOX stage at Cowles Center, and Squirrel Haus Arts.
We have also expanded our support to artists beyond performance opportunities, offering new initiatives, such as educational workshops, artist services, and community residencies. Amidst intense social change, Patrick’s Cabaret is ripe for reinvention to support artists in a new era.
Is Patrick Scully still involved?
Patrick Scully officially left the organization in 2008 to pursue his own art. He has not been involved with the organization since then, but remains supportive, most recently returning to our stage to help celebrate our 30th anniversary.
I heard you were closed. Is that true?
Nope, Patrick’s Cabaret continues! We only moved out of the firehouse location in May 2016, which changed how we operate. We are now a mobile venture.
I thought you became the Hook and Ladder? or the Firehouse Performing Arts Center?
No. Both the Hook and Ladder and the Firehouse Performing Arts Center are separate, unrelated organizations that have since been established in our old space.
Why did you move?
Although we had a lease through 2019, in March 2016 the building owner told us the building was being sold, terminated our lease, and required us to move out by the end of May 2016.
Would you have preferred to stay in the firehouse?
The firehouse was a great home for Patrick’s Cabaret for 17 years. Still, for over a year we had been developing plans to host more Cabaret activities in other venues throughout the community. This unexpected change accelerated those plans. We embraced this as an opportunity to refresh and restructure how we operate, while remaining committed to our mission.
Where are you now?
We have an office at ArtsHub West at Intermedia Arts 2822 Lyndale Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55408. We partner with and share established venues, working with performers and audiences to create exciting and surprising community spaces that fulfill our mission. (E.g., Intermedia Arts, Fox Egg Gallery, JSB TEK BOX stage at Cowles Center, Squirrel Haus Theater.) At this time, we have not identified a permanent physical space for relocation.
How do you operate without a permanent home?
Patrick’s Cabaret began as a nomadic gathering, and has existed in several locations in its history. At our core, the Cabaret is a concept and a community, and we’re moving forward with the belief that this development challenges us to do more radical work directly in the communities we serve.
What do you mean by “queer-led,” and why does it appear in your mission statement?
To us, placing “queer-led” in our mission statement is a recognition that queer-identified (LGBTQIA+) people are in positions of power, and that the organization supports work including, but not restricted to, queer-focused content.