Patrick’s Cabaret was a queer-led performance art incubator supporting the growth and development of artists on the edge of culture from 1986-2018.


Our work strived to center artists of color, with disabilities, and with queer and trans identities. We grew new art and new artists by encouraging artists of all experience levels to try new things, take risks, and present works-in-progress. We connected artists to education, performance platforms, tangible resources, and to each other, to put their talents to work. We built a diverse network of artists committed to forwarding a radically inclusive and progressive creative community where artists on the margins can thrive.

Why we existed

  • 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.

What we offered

  • 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

How we were 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.

Our history 

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. Read more about our History! Due to financial constraints, we sunsetted the organization in 2018.


In our current political and social reality, we saw 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. We partnered with and share established venues, working with performers and audiences to create exciting and surprising community spaces that fulfill our mission. Recent spaces included Intermedia Arts, the Fox Egg Gallery, the TEK BOX stage at Cowles Center, and Squirrel Haus Arts.

We 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's legacy will continue to support artists in a new era.


Is the organization still active?

No, Patrick's Cabaret formally sunsetted in June of 2018.

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?

Yes, though Patrick’s Cabaret continued after leaving our firehouse location in May 2016, which changed how we operate.

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?

Patrick's Cabaret lives on in our network of artists, and our legacy will continue in the Twin Cities, but we no longer offer programming in any location.

How did you operate without a permanent home?

Patrick’s Cabaret began as a nomadic gathering, and existed in several locations in its history. At our core, the Cabaret is a concept and a community, and we enjoyed the challenge to do more radical work directly in the communities we served.

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.

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