Support the CIM's Expansion & Improvement Project!

Project Overview

The only school in Minnesota dedicated exclusively to traditional Irish music, the Center for Irish Music (CIM) is committed to providing an authentic learning experience for students of all ages to grow in the knowledge, mastery and social connections made through this rich cultural tradition. 

Student enrollment at the Center for Irish Music has increased steadily since 2009, augmented by successful online programs launched during the pandemic. The CIM needs more space to grow. We have a unique opportunity to expand our school within the very walls of the building that has been our long-time home, the Celtic Junction. 

The CIM’s Expansion and Improvement Project will double our facility space and renovate it to meet the growing demand for programs in Irish traditional music. 

With your support, this newly-renovated space will include: 

  • Four new sound-proofed classrooms, including an acoustic recital hall
  • An ADA compliant external door with a vestibule
  • A new lower lobby
  • A secure storage closet for our 55+ rental instruments

This newly-renovated space will be used for private lessons, group classes, teacher training, recitals, ensemble rehearsals, sessions, and community gatherings.

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“With consistent program growth over many years, the timing is perfect for the Center for Irish Music to expand its classrooms and community gathering spaces. We can’t imagine a better place to lay down more roots than the Celtic Junction, a place where we have longstanding partnerships with Irish arts organizations that enrich our mission. We can hardly wait to share our new space with you!”

- Norah Rendell, Executive Artistic Director

The Center for Irish Music: A History of Growth

The only school in Minnesota dedicated exclusively to traditional Irish music, the Center for Irish Music (CIM) is committed to providing an authentic learning experience for students of all ages to grow in the knowledge, mastery and social connections made through this rich cultural tradition. CIM’s mission is to hand down the tradition to the next generation of musicians in our community, sharing the joy of Irish music with a broad audience through public performance and outreach.

In 2009, after 5 years of operation, the Center for Irish Music found a new home at the Celtic Junction building and experienced a change in leadership. Both factors led to significant growth and stabilization, not the least of which was being housed alongside O’Shea Irish Dance, an award-winning dance school. Additionally, the Celtic Junction building leadership hosted concerts for artists traveling through the Twin Cities.

From 2009-2013, our individual student numbers quadrupled, and the CIM relocated to the south end of the building in 2010, taking over 7 classrooms.  In the next seven years, from 2013-2021, enrollment increased by an additional 44%, from 325 individual students to 468 in 2021. This significant increase was positively impacted by the pandemic, and the high quality virtual offerings that CIM created and sustained.

Now in its 18th year, CIM offers year-­round programs for learners of all ages and abilities to take part in the intergenerational, communal experience that defines Irish music including:

  • Individual lessons on 16 Irish instruments, taught the traditional way, “by ear”
  • Group classes in Irish language and song
  • A thriving ensemble program
  • A phased early childhood music program­­
  • Minnesota Irish Music Weekend, an annual immersive music festival that brings internationally renowned musicians to Minnesota to teach and perform
  • Online Common Tunes jam sessions
  • Recitals, adult “open mic” nights, and community performances
  • Coaching for the All-Ireland Fleadh Cheoil Competitions

2004 - CIM founded as part of the St. Paul Conservatory of Music.

2007 - CIM went independent, assuming administration and renting space at the Wellstone Center.

2009 - CIM moves into the Celtic Junction building, 5 classrooms and a lobby in the area that is now the Eoin McKiernan Library.

2010 - CIM expands into the south end of the building, taking over 7 classrooms, sharing the multipurpose room with the Celtic Junction.

2015 - CIM takes over exclusive use of a large classroom for ensembles (CIM 8).

2020 - CIM starts offering virtual lessons and classes. Enrollment grows by 23% in one year.

2021 - CIM rents space at Newell Park, and extra studio space downstairs at the Celtic Junction to support the largest-ever youth ensemble program.

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"What’s going on at the Center for Irish Music is extraordinary. As someone who comes from New York, we have nothing as organized as this, with wonderful teaching staff, the facilities that are here for children to learn, and the way they bring in world class teachers every year to create even more buzz. I’ve been coming here a few years now and it’s just amazing to see the talent, and what’s being grown and nurtured here. It’s an incredible environment for learning and creativity.” 

- Joanie Madden, Grammy winning Irish flute player and two-time Minnesota Irish Music Weekend visiting master artist

What will this project accomplish?

The Center for Irish Music’s Expansion and Improvement Project will double CIM’s rented facility space and renovate it for increased efficiency, including online delivery, to meet the growing demand for programs in Irish traditional music –locally, nationally and internationally. This newly-renovated space will be used for private lessons, group classes, teacher training, recitals, ensemble rehearsals, sessions, and community gatherings. Outcomes include: 

  • Increasing our classroom space by 83% with the addition of 4 new classroom spaces: two for private lessons, and two large enough to host in-person group classes like Celtic Cuties, and Irish song classes. These spaces will allow for greater flexibility and increased programming.
  • Doubling our storage space, creating greater security for our growing investment in rental instruments and freeing up classroom space that is currently used for storage.
  • Creating a dedicated, ADA-compliant CIM entrance and lobby on the ground level. The new entrance will improve the experience of first-time and returning students and event attendees by creating a welcoming space and creating accessibility for students and guests with disabilities, parents with young children, and musicians with large instruments (such as harp).  A vestibule entrance will also address some climate control and HVAC issues on the ground floor.
  • Creating an intimate, acoustic recital hall that will also be a large classroom and multipurpose space for summer camps, Minnesota Irish Music Weekend and our annual Open House, and giving the CIM greater flexibility when other events are happening in the building.
  • Strengthening our partnership with the Celtic Junction Arts Center
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Lobby 1
Celtic Cuties Hallway
Recital Hall