Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School

Performing Institute of Minnesota (PiM) Arts High School is a tuition-free, public, charter school open to any Minnesota high school student artist who wants to develop and express artistic talents while participating in a rigorous academic program. Students in 9th through 12th grades focus on their artistic development by completing coursework in music, theater, dance, and/or musical theater, while also completing requirements in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and physical education. For the upcoming school year, there will be two new areas of artistic study: media arts, which includes classes for photography, film, and video design; and visual arts with classes such as drawing, painting, and sculpture.

PiM offers an intimate community for its students, with a maximum enrollment of 325 students. That allows the staff to get to know the students well, encouraging positive relationships and outcomes for all learners. The school cultivates an inclusive environment that supports the academic and artistic needs of a diverse student population.

As the school continued to grow, it needed a space to better serve its programming. Therefore, PiM has moved from Hopkins to Eden Prairie into a renovated 77,500-square-foot facility for the 2017-18 school year. The new facility provides space for increased enrollment, new course offerings, state-of-the-art technology, teaching tools and spaces, and expanded after-school opportunities for students of all ages.

“We used to rent performances spaces all over town,” said Matt McFarlane, executive director of PiM. “Performance is at the heart of what we do, and now we have our own space to do that. Plus the education spaces are vastly improved over what we had before.”

The school is renovating the existing gymnasium at the Eden Prairie site into a multipurpose performing arts space for the school and the broader community. “This will be a performing arts hub for the southwest metro and beyond,” Matt said. “This is a resource truly lacking in the area, and we are excited to build an impactful presence. We have already had such a huge response to this space that we have had to turn some requests down.”

And with the move also came a new name. The school, formerly the Main Street School of Performing Arts (MSSPA), is now called Performing Institute of Minnesota Arts High School – PiM.

PiM, through a building company, purchased the Eden Prairie building through a bonding process. However, bonding will not pay for equipment or furnishing, so PiM turned to Propel Nonprofits (formerly Nonprofits Assistance Fund) for a loan to purchase chairs, risers, and sound and light equipment.

“PiM Arts High School is such a terrific partner for us,” said Phil Hatlie, senior loan officer at Propel Nonprofits, “because it merges two of the key and long-standing passions of Propel Nonprofits – the arts and charter schools – into one client.”

“We found the interactions with Propel Nonprofits to be easy, smooth, and hassle-free,” said Matt. “The amount of due diligence was appropriate and not onerous in any way, shape or form. And compared to bonding,” Matt laughed, “it was a walk in the park!

“We are putting a bow on Phase 1 with the completion of the flexible white-box 300-seat auditorium,” Matt said. “Phase 2 will be building out a formal 500-seat auditorium in what is currently the loading dock. That could require a continued partnership with Propel Nonprofits, which would be welcomed. The people I worked with at Propel Nonprofits were helpful and knowledgeable, and I always felt Propel Nonprofits had our interest in mind.”

To learn more about Performing Institute of Minnesota, go here.

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