The Guthrie Theater has received a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
The grant, which is spread out over a three-year period, will support the Guthrie's efforts to be more nimble and responsive to current events with its programming, while also making its work more accessible to a wider audience.
The initiative focuses on the Guthrie's Dowling Studio. Artistic Director Joseph Haj said the grant will help fund the commissioning of new works, while also reducing ticket prices for the studio to $9.
"Lowering to a $9 ticket price to everything we do in the Dowling Studio is a terrific opportunity," Haj said. "For anyone who can afford to go to a movie, you can participate in the work of the Guthrie Theater."
In conjunction with the grant, the Guthrie is hiring a new director of community engagement to help the theater connect with diverse communities it isn't reaching.
In each of the three years covered by the grant, the Guthrie plans to host a "devised theater ensemble" — a group that will create and produce a work from scratch, starting without a script. Haj said such groups are producing some of the most exciting and innovative work in American theater today.
The first such group will be The Moving Company, which will produce a piece titled "Refugia." The Moving Company comprises some of the members of the old Theatre de la Jeune Lune.
In producing new work, Haj said, the Guthrie will aim to take risks.
"There's no sense falling off the lowest rung on the ladder," he said. "Let's be brave."
Haj also envisions using the ninth floor as a space for community conversations around pressing issues. He said the grant will help the Guthrie "to engage communities in a way that we've never done before."