Penumbra Exceeds Fundraising Goal; Resumes Programming


Penumbra announced today that it exceeded its fundraising goal and will resume programming this spring. Over 1,400 individuals, corporations and foundations donated $359,000 by December 30, 2012.

"The response was inspiring and humbling with donations coming in from across the nation. We are fortunate to have such a passionate family of supporters," stated Bill Stevens, Chair of the Penumbra Board of Directors. "The matching grants from corporations, foundations and individuals had a huge impact. The board and volunteers leveraged it with calls straight through the holidays. The response speaks to the importance of Penumbra and its mission."

"We are grateful for the tremendous support - and excited to present SPUNK, a George C. Wolfe adaptation of Zora Neale Hurston's Three Tales. This sensuous and witty show has a great cast to bring its rich mixture of storytelling, dance and the blues to life," stated Lou Bellamy, Penumbra Founder and Artistic Director. He added, "We are proud to have RBC Wealth Management as the presenter of our spring season which will also feature the popular Let's Talk Theatre and REEL Talk events. Tickets are available now. It will be good to see everyone in the lobby again." The Penumbra Summer Institute, a nationally recognized three-year arts education and leadership training program, was not impacted by the fall suspension and continues as scheduled.

Due to an income shortfall in August, Penumbra made the critical decisions to suspend its fall programming; to reduce its FY13 budget by $800,000 including eliminating six full-time staff positions; and, to set a goal to raise $340,000 by calendar year end. Observed Michael Kaiser, President of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, "It is a great testament to the vision and commitment of the board and staff of Penumbra that this remarkable goal has been achieved. It is especially gratifying that so many individuals have made contributions towards this goal. Of course, the organization must now build on this foundation to ensure that its programming can thrive and that Penumbra can maintain its leadership position in the arts ecology of the Twin Cities and the nation."

Penumbra has also committed to develop a seven-year business plan (FY14 through FY20) by June 30, 2013. The plan will identify the most effective structural and financial models to ensure sustainability while incorporating artistic and administrative succession. 3M is providing members from their Strategy Development and their Lean Six Sigma groups to help lead the project and to provide analysis on the viability of the key revenue streams. The 2020 vision remains true to Penumbra's mission and legacy and will not change what it does but it will change how it activates the mission. It is a vision of a sustainable and vibrant culturally specific theater that uses technology to connect people to the art, and, that supports itself through profit generating business units.

"Penumbra has strong internal systems in place to complete implementation of the business model changes. The discovery of the cash flow problem this summer surfaced a weakness in the system that was addressed with authority and speed," stated Kate Barr, Executive Director of Nonprofits Assistance Fund. Barr added "I believe that with continued commitment from staff and board leadership, support from key stakeholders and supporters, and a shared vision, Penumbra can rebound from this serious setback and build an institution for the future."

Presented by RBC Wealth Management

All activities take place at Penumbra Theatre, 270 North Kent Street, St. Paul, MN. All tickets for the play or any other activities can be made online at or call the box office at 651-224-3180. Check the Penumbra website which is updated continuously with more details and news at or call the box office at 651-224-3180.

Adapted by George C. Wolfe from Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston
Directed by Patdro Harris
Featuring T. Mychael Rambo, Dennis W. Spears, Jevetta Steele, and Austene Van.
March 14 - April 7, 2013
Tickets: $40 adult, $15 students

Based on the folklore collected by literary icon Zora Neale Hurston, SPUNK is a sensuous and witty journey through African American life at the dawn of the 20th century. A rich mixture of storytelling, dance and the blues, SPUNK is both a celebration of life and a testament to the travails black Americans have endured. A pillar of the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston's voice is lovingly brought to the stage through a lively adaptation by award-winning playwright George C. Wolfe.

Other related activities:
§ Study guides will be available mid-February. These guides provide a context for the art and enrich your theatrical experience. These guides can be downloaded free from our website. They include an overview of the artistic process; the history of African American theater; play specifics; a contextual essay; and an annotated bibliography. Standardized curricula with innovative lesson plans are also included for teachers and students. These comprehensive guides are highly regarded by theater professionals for their historical and cultural depth.

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