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Minnesotan To Meet: Scott Mayer Of Ivey Awards, Charlie Awards

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- If you like to eat, go to a show or check out new window art, there's one driving force behind it all in downtown Minneapolis.

We're talking the Ivey Awards, Charlie Awards and the Made Here initiative. His name is Scott Mayer. He also has his own company to represent profit and not for profit businesses.

Mayer has originated things like the One Man project, which honors men doing work in the community and MOSAIC, which celebrates cultural diversity. Scott takes us behind the curtain to show us how he does it all as this week's Minnesotan to Meet.

Growing up in Roscoe, South Dakota, a population of about 300, Scott Mayer had one bit-part in Butterflies are Free at age 14.

"I was in this play smoking a cigarette and wearing underwear. I don't remember the exact role and my mother was horrified," Mayer said.

His first and last role, it certainly wasn't a curtain call for Mayer. Especially once he moved to Minnesota after college.

"There are 76 professional theaters in the Twin Cities. I could go to a different show every week and still not tap all the companies, much less all the productions," he said.

Mayer tried a variety of jobs.

"I've been a lawyer, I've been a lobbyist, a black jack dealer, a high school English teacher and spent a considerable amount of time at Dayton's and Target Corporation," he said.

He even traveled far away before he was able to align his work with his passion.

"The Ivey Awards is celebrating our 10th anniversary," Mayer said.

The annual non-nomination awards show showcases the best in the Twin Cities professional theater. The 90-minute show brings snippets of a variety of theater to the stage.

"What we really want is for people to leave the Ivey Awards and go, wow, I really need to see more theater," Mayer said.

He also wants more people to see art in empty Downtown store fronts.

"I'm working for the Hennepin Theater Trust to develop the new cultural district downtown," he said.

It's called "Made Here" and is getting good reviews for filling space and showcasing local talent but he sees much more growth ahead.

"The challenge is what's exciting because i think there's so far we can go," Mayer said.

Mayer sees the restaurant industry entering one of its most exciting times.

"It makes my head spin. There are more restaurants opening per week here than I could have ever imagined," he said.

That's why he developed the Charlie Awards four years ago, named after the legendary restaurant, Charlie's Café Exceptionale, which was a mainstay in downtown Minneapolis until the 1980s. The industry just seems to be getting better with more creative choices.

"Individuals are opening so many different kinds of food service, maybe it starts with a food truck then a restaurant then a pop up," he said.

That's why Mayer's recipe for success is following his passion. Putting downtown Minneapolis on people's to do list while celebrating how far the arts have already come.

The 2014 Ivey Awards will be held on Monday, Sept. 22, at the State Theater. The VIP pre-party is at 5:30 p.m., with the awards at 7:30 p.m.

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