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Revival of the “Audi” Auditorium in Cando


Few things can offer better excitement for a youngster in small-town North Dakota than a trip to the movie theatre for the latest in cinema extravagance. This wondrous feeling still exists in Cando thanks to the Municipal Auditorium, more commonly known to townspeople as “The Audi.”

It was on this date in 1915, that the Grand Forks Herald reported on a special meeting in Cando on a $12,000 bonding proposal for the purpose of constructing a new auditorium, complete with a basketball court. They built it – and the magnificent “Audi” has now graced Main Street in Cando for a century, allowing music, art and entertainment to thrive in the small Towner-County community.

In the Audi’s very first year, it hosted a convention of the Non-Partisan League. Members of the NPL party came to Cando from all over the surrounding areas to participate in the historic political party. And the Audi continued to bring people together as residents gave of their time in the production of plays, musicals, concerts, and operettas.

For decades thereafter, culture was highly regarded in Cando. But, by the time of the early 1980s, the building had fallen on hard times. Some believed there was no purpose for the Audi to exist any longer. Talk of tearing it down began to circulate.

Fortunately, in 1982, a group of citizens came together and formed the Cando Arts Council with help from the North Dakota Council on the Arts. This group worked tirelessly to find a way for the “Audi” to survive. They raised money to revive the “Audi,” and the arts began thriving again. Besides plays, musicals, and movies, the building began hosting classes, in ballet, tap-dance, and jazz.

The Audi’s renovations included a transformation of the ancient basketball court, which became an art gallery and a space for art shows and art classes.

There is no telling what might have happened to the building, and to Cando’s vitality, if the Arts Council had not come to the rescue. Today, Cando’s “Audi” auditorium stands proudly on Main Street, a home for art, movies, and talented performers.

Dakota Datebook written by Michelle Holien, edited by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, MSU Moorhead History Department.

Sources: “Bond City to Erect Auditorium,” Grand Forks Daily Herald, May 18, 1915.

Cando and Surrounding Rural Areas: A Century of Progress (Cando: Cando Centennial Committee), page 68, 114, 130.

Shelley Lord, Cando, N.D., interviewed by Michelle Holien, March 18, 2016.