Southern Theater reworks staff, budget


Last April, the Southern Theater announced that in order to maintain its current staff and season schedule it would have to raise $400,000 by the end of the month. One benefit party and a donation drive later, the organization has managed to raise around $95,000 -- an admirable number given the short span of time. Regardless, falling short of its goal means that cuts and changes have to be made.

[jump] The theater hopes that restructuring and dramatically adjusting spending will usher it into a new, sustainable era. "For at least seven years, the theater has shouldered too much of the financial risk of presenting and producing performances of dance, music, theater, and film, and has not effectively made the case to enough individuals, foundations, and corporations that donations, sponsorships, and underwriting will produce sufficient added value to merit full support," states Anne Baker, chair of the board of directors, in recently release. "This plan allows us to stabilize and to focus on the chronic issue of negative cash flows caused by organizational, strategic, managerial, and operational problems."

Despite the wary optimism, the numbers look grim. Over the past couple years the theater has worked with an annual budget of approximately $1.1 million. Moving forward the space will be on a tight budget of $165,600. So far five shows slated for the 2011-2012 season have been canceled, and music programmer Kate Nordstrum left the organization late last month. The theater space currently faces a $300,000 deficit, and recently lost significant McKnight funding after dance fellowship recipients complained that they had not fully received their due amount.

While tough times have fallen on the 101-year-old theater, the show will go on. Production and operations manager Damon Runnals will be stepping into the role of general manager, and upcoming shows include string quartet Brooklyn Rider; the women- and social justice-themed piece, Kshoy!/Decay! By Ananya Dance Theatre;and Momentum: New Dance Works featuring pieces by Mad King Thomas, Kaleena Miller, Kenna Sarge, and Chris Yon