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Take a bow, Sheldon Theatre

The Sheldon Theatre won the Arts & Entertainment, Lodging, Recreation & Tourism Business of the Year. Pictured on the Sheldon stage are Lacy Schumann (left), Jennifer Staley, Greg Nixon, Bonnie Schock, Russell Johnson, Natalie Olson and Helene Olson Reed. (Photo by Samantha Bengs)

Arts & Entertainment, Lodging, Recreation & Tourism Business of the Year 

The historic theatre that has housed decades of applause is itself receiving an ovation.

The Sheldon Theatre was named the 2016 Arts & Entertainment, Lodging, Recreation & Tourism Business of the Year by Red Wing Area Chamber of Commerce members at the Jan. 30 annual meeting and awards banquet.

Sheldon Theatre Executive Director Bonnie Schock said the business award was extra-meaningful for a nonprofit arts organization.

"If you look purely at the economic impact that arts organizations have in their communities, it's extraordinary," Schock said. "It's really nice to have the business community recognize that the role that we play here is one that is fostering the broader success of Red Wing."

Schock, along with the Sheldon's administrative team of Jennifer Staley, Natalie Olson and Russell Johnson, spoke to their efforts of being more present in the community.

"On all fronts, with marketing, education, outreach and programming, we've really tried to be present and establish a lot of different entry points for people," Schock said.

The Sheldon's timeline is dotted with different phases; the original theater, a movie house, the fabled roof explosion and, much to the community's delight, a major renovation back to an intricate jewel box theater.

Greg Nixon and Helene Olson-Reed, veterans of the Sheldon stage and supporters of the arts community, both began their relationships with the Sheldon in the 1970s.

"The support from people at the theater working behind the scenes, and the support from the entire community attending shows and events, is something a community of this size should be incredibly proud of," Nixon said. "The theater itself is a community within the community."

Olson-Reed has attended weddings, funerals, and just about anything in between at the theater, she said.

"The Sheldon has been at the center of our community. I see it as the center of our community," Olson-Reed said. "It is truly iconic."

Lacy Schumann, a newer face in the Red Wing community and part of the staff at the Red Wing Arts Association, said her young family has fully embraced the Sheldon and its variety of performances. Schumann moved to the area in 2016.

"It's poking at people's curiosity," Schumann said of the Sheldon's programming. "The shows are appealing to so many people, it feels almost impossible to resist it."

Schumann said within her family's first few months in Red Wing, her 5-year-old son has already taken to the Sheldon stage.

"The accessibility of the things like the children's theater program is incredible," she said. "My son would have never gotten that anywhere else. It is not overpriced, and they are subjects that he can grasp and open his little mind to new things."

Nixon applauded the Sheldon's recent programming and outreach efforts.

"They are reaching the whole spectrum of the community," he said.

Olson-Reed admitted on her own accord that she could carry on about the Sheldon much longer than one would like to entertain.

"This is great community for arts, it's our identity. The Sheldon is the icing on top," she said.

Schumann's fresh observations of the historic theater are perhaps the most poignant.

"Attending and being part of community experiences at the Sheldon showed me what this community is capable of — of being welcoming and open," Schumann said.

The Sheldon team members said they are honored with the recognition and the positive feedback on new programming approaches.

"This was very intentional programming for different tastes and aesthetics. Not every show will be for everyone, but there will be a show that everyone will enjoy," Schock said. "It is a purposeful approach to have something that everyone can relate to."

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