Southern Theater declares a "state of emergency"

After 101 years as a staple of the Twin Cities' cultural community, the Southern Theater stands in serious mud. With a rapidly approaching deadline and a grand sum of money necessary to keep the doors open and the artists working, things don't look good.

In a letter yesterday, Southern laid out the situation: $400,000 is needed by April 30, or operations will be suspended. They go on to explain what that money will be used for (you can read the letter at the foot of this post), including the salary of a person in charge of overseeing development and fundraising, green improvements to the building, and, perhaps most importantly, keeping their packed calender out of forfeiture.

A scan of their upcoming events illustrates just how widely the Southern casts their artistic net, with a variety of performances scheduled from musicians and performers concerned with the melding, separating, and exploration of old and new and young and old. Performances that would likely be homeless otherwise.

The full text of their letter:

April 21, 2011 

Dear Friends and Patrons, 

We come to you with heavy hearts, filled with hope. The financial difficulties that have beset the Southern Theater for the past few years have reached a state of emergency. That emergency now threatens the very existence of the Southern and we must raise $400,000 by April 30, 2011 to keep the doors open.

The $400,000 we seek will help bring The Southern out of the financial mire in which it has been sinking for the past decade. It will give the new board of directors, collaborating with staff, the time needed to put a sustainable operating model in place. This operating model will include funding for a development position, a position sorely lacking in the last few years. 

Beyond an immediate resuscitation of this historic establishment, this new operating model will allow The Southern to continue the exciting trajectory it has begun in the past several months:

-Innovative programming that brings an astounding array of artists to the stage, garnering local and national acclaim for the Theater;
-An award-winning, state-of-the-art green design for revitalizing the building that has been embraced as a paradigm of economic and ecological sustainability; and
-The Theater serving as an anchor for the renaissance of the Washington Ave corridor, linking Downtown Minneapolis and Seven Corners/University of Minnesota.

If you love the arts and the quality of life we've come to enjoy here-and others come here to enjoy-in Minnesota and specifically in the Twin Cities, you know how important it is to have an institution like The Southern. In fact, the incredibly fine arts community in the Twin Cities is due in large part to organizations such as The Southern, for it serves as a feeder of new and emerging talent for organizations nationwide.

Please, we need your financial support.

If you enjoy the dance, music and theater The Southern presents, please give now. 

If you appreciate the importance of the arts to the well-being of the Twin Cities, please give now. 

If you believe in investing in the sustainability of a theater that has been a landmark in the Twin Cities for over a century, please give now and please encourage others to do the same. 

Please, we need you to be part of the legacy in keeping this 100 year old Theater and its contribution to the arts community thriving. Every donation, no matter what size, will make a difference. 

Thank you.

Anne F. Baker, Chair, Board of Directors 

Brian Sostek, Director, Board of Directors

Gary Peterson, Executive Director

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