Southern Theater must raise 400k to stay open

This evening the leaders of the Southern Theater sent out an e-mail to its supporters, with an empassioned plea for help. The bottom line: the performing arts venue needs to raise $400,000 by April 30th - a mere nine days away - in order to keep the doors open.

The plea comes in the wake of news that 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.

Here's what the e-mail had to say:

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

So, what do you think? Should the Southern be rescued from its financial meltdown? Or should its mismanagement of funds be cause enough for the institution to close?

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