Local music education nonprofit eyeing Payne Avenue for new venue

file photo • The nonprofit Twin Cities Catalyst Music is looking to use the basement of the Old Swedish Bank building for a new all-ages and alcohol-free music venue. Twin Cities Catalyst Music teaches youth about various aspects of the music business — composing, recording, operating a venue and other skills.

Group plans to have after-school music programs.


Payne Avenue is being eyed up as a spot for a new all-ages and alcohol-free music venue. 

Local nonprofit Twin Cities Catalyst Music recently held a fundraiser and is applying for a St. Paul Cultural STAR grant to get the project moving. 

Twin Cities Catalyst Music teaches young people various aspects of the music business — performing, composing, recording, music journalism, promoting, stage work and other skills. 

The nonprofit currently operates an all-ages, alcohol-free venue in Burnsville called “The Garage.”

It plans to use space in the basement of the Old Swedish Bank building at 965 Payne Ave. The building is owned by Dimitri Hatzigeorgiou, who recently purchased it from the East Side Neighborhood Development Company. He also owns the building where Caydence Records and Coffee is located, which also hosts small music events. 

Other tenants at 965 Payne Ave. include East Side Neighborhood Development Company and Eastside Financial Center Services.

Jack Kolb-Williams, executive director of Twin Cities Catalyst Music, said the nonprofit had been looking at space in St. Paul for a while because of the ease of access for youth and because there were a lot of potential partners in the area. 

For example, Kolb-Williams said, the organization will be working with groups like the Arlington Hills Community Center and the Eastside Boys and Girls Club to create after-school music programs for students.  

He said that for people between the ages of 14 and 24, “at that time in your life, music really resonates,” and that it’s a critical time to hone creative skills.

“I think it’s so integral to how people are able to gain confidence and learn more about who they are,” Kolb-Williams said. 

He said a lot of youth may not have opportunities to work on or develop those skills and that Twin Cities Catalyst Music serves to fill that gap. 

Kolb-Williams, who has been involved in the music industry and teaching for 14 years, said the 4-year-old organization, which has operated The Garage for three years, wants to take what it has learned from that space to “turn it into a positive thing” for St. Paul. He said ultimately, the goal is to provide a safe space for people to be creative.

With the more than $2,500 raised during the recent fundraiser, plus a matching Cultural STAR grant, the next steps will be to get equipment for the space like speakers, a stage and other sound equipment. He said that won’t be happening until after Oct. 1 through, per grant guidelines. 

Kolb-Williams said with a conservative estimate, he gives it eight months to a year before the doors are open. 

“Payne Avenue is amazing,” he said, adding that responses from the business community have been positive and that he’s really looking forward to getting the doors open.


– Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto

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