About Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault

Who We Are

About Us

The Paradise Center for the Arts continues to be a vibrant cultural and artistic gathering place in Historic downtown Faribault. We are centrally located in Southern MN, less than an hour from 3 major hubs: St Paul/Minneapolis, Mankato and Rochester. 2020 marks our 13th year of creating visual and performing arts in Faribault.

We are thrilled to bring you an exciting line-up of entertaining shows and educational opportunities made possible by Minnesota State Arts Board and SEMAC grants, and the generous gifts of business and individuals.

In an effort to bring you the highest caliber shows and classes, we are shifting from a calendar-year schedule in 2020, which runs January through December, to a program-year schedule. This means our season will now run from July through June.

In 2019 we began offering more family-friendly programming, and made our shows more accessible through enhanced ADA compliance, sensory training, and reduced ticket prices. Our Family Fun and Film series has been a huge hit, and we will continue it in 2020. We will also continue to offer sensory-friendly performances. These judgement-free and “shush-free” performances are for anyone on the autism spectrum or with sensory sensitivities, and include leading the house lights on and minimal surprising.loud sounds. We also have a quiet room and sound-canceling headphones available.

Our 2020 season is filled with opportunities for you and your family to tap into your inner creative selves and engage with our arts-loving community. Whether you want to take a pottery class or experience the power of live theatre, we look forward to creating art with you at the Paradise!

Our Mission

We welcome everyone to experience the transformative power of the arts.

Our Vision

The Paradise Center for the Arts is a collaborative center of artistic activity in downtown Faribault. We offer art education, gallery exhibitions and live performances of music, theater, and comedy and other artistic opportunities for all ages. We are a vibrant hub in our community and a well fueled economic engine for the region.

Our History

Our beautifully restored facility is built on the original foundation of the 1885 Faribault Opera House, which was completely destroyed by fire in 1929. After years of operation as a movie theater, and then several years of vacancy and decay, the community rallied to restore this magnificent jewel. The building was extensively renovated in 2006 to include art galleries, classrooms, clay and textile labs, a gift shop and rehearsal spaces, in addition to a 300 seat auditorium. The Paradise Center for the Arts opened to the public in 2007. In 2008, The Paradise Center for the Arts received the MN Preservation Alliance Restoration/Rehabilitation Award.

The Paradise Theater was built upon the foundation of the Grand Opera House in 1929, after the original opera house was destroyed by a fire. Designed by the architectural firm Liebenberg and Kaplan, the Paradise was originally conceptualized as the Granada with a Moorish or Spanish theme.

Bahl AuditoriumThe Paradise is an example of an “atmospheric” theatre, a Hollywood-inspired genre of architecture. Unlike conventional theatres, atmospherics are rich in fantasy décor, designed to divert the audience away from everyday cares and set the stage for the show to come on stage and screen. The architectural design and decorative scheme in an atmospheric theatre were planned to evoke the illusion that patrons were seated outdoors. This effect was achieved by projecting images of stars and moving clouds onto a painted, seamless ceiling, using a brenograph, which is a special type of projection equipment designed expressly for this purpose. The employment of projected images is the key element in an “atmospheric” theatre. The auditorium appeared to have no roof, and patrons seemed to be sitting outside under a starry summer sky. The notion of a projector with clouds and stars was a very clever and innovative idea in the 1930s, as most other theatres would utilize a pianist or a pit band to entertain the patrons before a film screening or production.

To create the “atmospheric” mood, theatres were modeled after certain romantic themes. Some, like the Paradise, took their inspiration from Spanish Mediterranean villages, while others borrowed from ancient Egypt. The image created for the Paradise was one of a walled Moorish courtyard. Once seated inside of the auditorium of the theatre, the full effect of the courtyard “atmosphere” is achieved. The sides of the theatre, faced with plaster scored to look like masonry, were painted to resemble stone.

The theatre was designed with a traditional proscenium arch, separating the shallow vaudeville stage from the seating area. It also included a small orchestra pit intended for use by the musicians who accompanied the movies of that time. Originally designed to seat 915 people, the theatre was eventually divided in half so that two movies could be screened simultaneously.

The theatre closed in the early 1990s, under pressure for more modern, multiplex theatres that had sprung up in the region. The period of vacancy at the Paradise Theater did not mean that Faribault was void of artistic enterprises, however. The nonprofit Faribault Art Center (FAC) in 1965; Faribault Area Community Theater (FACT) in 1988; and the Paradise Center’s semiprofessional resident theatrical company, The Merlin Players, all became very active players in the regional arts scene.

mash castFor over 40 years, the Fairbauilt Art Center (now Paradise Center for the Arts) has been part of the Faribault community. Began in the 1950s by a small group of artists, FAC promoted visual arts to local artists and art lovers through classes, exhibitions, and community involvement projects. FACT also had a strong history of making theatrical performances accessible to community participants as well as patrons. There are currently three community theatre performances a year, held in the Bahl Family Auditorium.

Currently, Faribault Art Center is doing business as Paradise Center for the Arts (PCA). Faribault Area Community Theater dissolved as a nonprofit organization, and is merged into the Paradise. The organizations merged their operations and finances in November of 2006. Paradise Center for the Arts functions under the Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation of Faribault Art Center, and retains its nonprofit status: EIN 41-138-1314.

We look forward to the opportunity to share with YOU what Paradise has to offer. Visit our facility and enjoy our many artistic offerings. Contact us to learn more today.

Work with Us

There are no open positions at this time.

Who We Are

  • Heidi Nelson: Executive Director
  • Julie Fakler: Director of Visual Arts and Education
  • Caitlin Lipinski: Marketing
  • Sara Caron: Production Coordinator
  • Rhonda Norgaard: Administrative Assistant
  • Char Johnson: Box Office
  • Vicki Peterson: Box Office


Patrick Braucher, President

Cate Grinney, Vice President

Kelly Nygaard, Secretary

Matthew Long, Treasurer

Peter van Sluis, City Council Rep

Cheryl Steinberg

Jessica Schwie

 Wanda Holmgren

Jennifer Kluzak

Todd Ginter

Kris Stasson-Howell


Volunteer at the Paradise

Give your time and be a volunteer!
Help the Paradise Center for the Arts by giving your time. There are many opportunities to volunteer for during the year, whether you just want to commit for a night or the whole year!

For each show or event we are always looking for friendly outgoing people to help usher, open doors, attend our concession stand, and greet patrons. These volunteers help us get ready prior to, stay and enjoy the show, and tidy up after. For some shows, we also need people who would like to be a stage manager, front of house manager, sell merchandise, and sound or light technician.

If you want to give more of your time, we are always looking for volunteers to help maintain our facility and keep it looking its best! Our 2 theater companies are also regularly looking for help with set construction and painting.

To get on our volunteer list, be contacted about new volunteer opportunities, or to just get more information, email info@paradisecenterforthearts.org or call 507-332-7372 ext. 4.

Internships at the Paradise

The Paradise Center for the Arts is looking for an intern (unpaid) 5 hours a week in a fun and vibrant arts organization.  The ideal candidate is a senior in high school or college student, or SAHM parent looking to gain skills to re-enter the workforce, with reliable transportation, is comfortable with social media, and interested in marketing/communications, office management, non-profit management and/or visual or performing arts. 

Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Social media post scheduling
Inputting information to public calendars
Large mailings
Creating electronic newsletters
Researching grant opportunities
Researching art projects and materials needed
Assist with setting up/taking down galleries
Assist with special events


Teach at the Paradise

Share your passion and talent for the arts! The Paradise Center for the Arts is looking for teaching artists who are interested in teaching others how to create, and appreciate the visual and performing arts. The Paradise Center for the Arts is seeking instructors for: Textiles, Clay, Photography, Painting, Acting/Theatre, Drawing, Literary arts, Collage, Book making, Sculpture, Music, fused glass, Jewelry, and more. If you are interested in teaching, please contact Julie Fakler for more information, 507-332-7372 ext. 4, info@paradisecenterforthearts.org

Rent the Paradise

The Paradise Theater in Faribault MN has become a magnet for theatrical artists.

The Bahl Foundation is a proud partner, and has been instrumental in providing a high-quality yet intimate space for a wide variety of events including plays, concerts and speaking engagements.

With a maximum seating capacity of 375 patrons - and the ability to add a thrust stage or convert the space to accommodate a dance floor - The Bahl Family Auditorium is truly a space where the arts can flourish.

The Paradise is a unique and creative venue to host an event. We have hosted everything from baby showers to major conferences.

Our 300 seat auditorium is perfect for a business speaking engagement, a wedding, or even a private movie party.

We also have smaller spaces for more intimate gatherings, meetings or parties, plus we have a full kitchen onsite to assist with party planning and catering.

Our cash bar can be opened for your event as well, along with providing other light snacks and beverage services.

Interested in renting the Paradise for your next business event, private party, special event or concert? Contact Heidi Nelson, interim director, for rates and information: director@paradisecenterforthearts.org

Visit Us

The Paradise Center for the Arts continues to be a vibrant cultural and artistic gathering place in Historic downtown Faribault. We are centrally located in Southern MN, less than an hour from 3 major hubs: St Paul/Minneapolis, Mankato and Rochester.

Visit us in Faribault!

321 Central Ave. N.
Faribault, MN 55021
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 12pm–5pm, Saturday 10am-2pm

Contact Us

For more information about our facilities, job opportunities, internships, and anything else, contact Paradise Center for the Arts in Faribault today!
Phone: 507-332-7372
Email: info@paradisecenterforthearts.org

“These activities are made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural fund.”

Contact Info:

Paradise Center for the Arts 507-332-7372 info@paradisecenterforthearts.org
321 Central Ave. N.
Faribault, MN 55021


Wednesday, Thursday, Friday 12pm-5pm, Saturday 10am-2pm
Visit Us

Community Partners

Crossroads Professional Building
Reliance Bank
State Bank of Faribault
City of Faribault
Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce
Faribault Daily News
Faribault Foundation
C&S Vending
Bart Jackson Insurance
Pat Andreas Insurance
Legacy Funds/Clean Water Act
Minnesota State Arts Board