Twin Cities TOSCA celebrates 10th anniversary this fall

Paul Reyburn and Paul Coate perform “Brush up Your Shakespeare” at the Oct. 10 awards ceremony. (Submitted photo)
Paul Reyburn and Paul Coate perform “Brush up Your Shakespeare” at the Oct. 10 awards ceremony. (Submitted photo)

by Rachel M. Anderson

Contributing Writer

There comes a time in many people’s lives when they decide to make a change. Edina resident Gail Weber decided to pretty much start over 10 years ago.

“Some people thought I was crazy to leave a lucrative law practice to start an arts business,” said Weber, “especially when I had no experience, no funding and limited contacts in that field. But honestly, it was the best thing I ever did.”

When she started Twin Cities TOSCA, which is short for Twin Cities Theater, Opera, Shakespeare, Culture, Art, in 2005, Weber envisioned an organization that would place most of its emphasis on educational arts events and produce a quarterly newsletter about arts-related events in the Twin Cities. Instead, the events ended up taking a backseat to what evolved into “Exploring TOSCA,” the region’s only arts by category magazine and the most comprehensive directory of arts events in the Twin Cities.

The 8 1/2” x 11” glossy magazine is now published quarterly and includes articles and event listings in the categories of theater, opera, Shakespeare, culture and art, as its name reflects. Weber runs the magazine with the help of a half-dozen staffers who help out with such tasks as graphics design, proofreading, marketing and writing. The magazine has 2,000 subscribers and 10,000 online readers.

“The magazine has gone way beyond my expectations,” said Weber. “It just took on a life of its own. I was not aware of the amount and quality of arts related events in this area until I started Exploring TOSCA. We have so many wonderful artists, dancers, actors and authors – it’s just unbelievable. I can’t fit all the events I learn about into the magazine.”

Weber and her supporters celebrated the organization’s 10th anniversary the evening of Oct. 10 at the event, “Truffles & Duffles” held at The Marsh in Minnetonka. In addition to dinner and desert, “TOSCAR awards” were handed out to local artists.

Marissa and Greg Frankenfield, owners of Old Log Theater, accepted the Theater award for providing quality theatre that is accessible to everybody. They were also recognized for recent innovations, including the new Cast & Cru restaurant, Ladies Night, Cheap Date Night and the Summer Children’s shows.
In the Opera category, Jan Schueppert of Mendota Heights received the “Opera Crusader” award for her dedication to bringing opera and classical music to children. Helen Donnay accepted the Shakespeare award on behalf of the Cromulent Shakespeare Company that since 1996 has been offering free performances in the parks and around the lakes in Minnesota.

The Culture award went to the Celtic Junction in St. Paul, founded by Natalie and Cormac O’Shea. John C. Traeger, of Rosemount won the “Art” award. Traeger creates wooden jewelry and keepsake boxes from exotic and domestic hardwoods.

The OSCAR TOSCAR was awarded to Angie Hall Sandifer, owner of Angie’s Hats, located in St. Paul. Wendy Houser Blomseth of Minneapolis received the ROCKER TOSCAR for her unique and enthusiastic ability to “rock the arts.” She is known for organizing theatre outings, art gatherings and even road trips to events such as The Great River Shakespeare Festival.

Gulgun (Gigi) Turker was named Minnesota Artist of the Year. Classically trained in Turkey at Ankara Devlet Konservatuari, Turker’s works have been exhibited at galleries, festivals, and museums internationally.

Now that the 10th anniversary celebration is over, it’s back to business for Weber. She is hard at work putting together the next issue of Exploring TOSCA, and of course arranging arts-related events as well.

“The arts I have experienced and the people I have met since starting this journey have changed my life. If TOSCA can facilitate this kind of change for others, then I will consider it to have been a success,” said Weber.

For more information about Twin Cities TOSCA, visit tctosca.com.

Rachel M. Anderson is a contributing writer for the Sun Current.