Financial concerns threaten Southern Theater's future

Southern Theater
Southern Theater in Minneapolis.
MPR Photo/Chris Roberts

The executive director of the Southern Theater in Minneapolis said he can't predict whether the institution will survive into next year.

The theater, which presents innovative music and dance programs in the West Bank area, is facing a financial meltdown after a major funder, the McKnight Foundation, asked for the return of $300,000 it gave the Southern to fund a dance grants program after concerns were raised about mismanagement.

Gary Peterson, the theater's executive director, said the board is working to resolve the problems.

"It is our intent to meet all of our outstanding obligations," Peterson said. "And, as you might imagine, there's a lot we don't know and there's a lot we've got to decide on a day-by-day basis."

He said it is the Southern's intent to finish out the current season, but has not had any discussions about next year. He said the board is working on a plan to move forward.

Peterson said the Southern's staff remains committed to serving both artists and the larger community. The staff will focus this weekend on the multiple concerts of the "String Theory" festival.

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