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Guthrie Theater Reports Financial Stability At Annual Meeting

In netting the results of FY20 and FY21, the Guthrie reported a surplus of $27,500.

Guthrie Theater Reports Financial Stability At Annual Meeting

At its annual meeting today, the Guthrie Theater (Joseph Haj, Artistic Director) reflected on the organization's 2020-2021 fiscal year, which began September 1, 2020, and ended August 31, 2021. While onstage performances were shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guthrie reached audiences through virtual programming and events, connecting communities during a time when healing and inspiration were greatly needed. In netting the results of FY20 and FY21, the Guthrie reported a surplus of $27,500.

Artistic Director Joseph Haj said, "The 2020-2021 Season will go down in Guthrie Theater history as the year with no live programming on our stages. As we wrestled mightily with what it means to be a theater when we could not put plays onstage, we found ample opportunity to stretch and grow. None of the work would have been possible without the unwavering support from our board, staff, artists, donors, volunteers, colleagues, advocates and legislators - all of whom unified in their commitment to the Guthrie and nonprofit theater."

Haj continued, "An important learning of the pandemic has been that by joining forces virtually with theaters across the country, we can build deep networks of collaboration, enable meaningful conversations and influence legislative change together. As we move forward, I continue to believe deeply that live theater is as necessary now as it has ever been. It is here to stay, gathering us as a community and illuminating our common humanity."

Managing Director James Haskins stated, "During the 18-month shutdown, when the Guthrie would have generated an estimated $29 million in earned revenues, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program provided the Guthrie and venues across the country with the foundational relief to open our doors once again. We know we are not yet entirely out of the woods, but the focused work to manage expenses and generate federal relief and contributed revenue during the shutdown has been critical to the Guthrie's ability to weather the pandemic and remain in a sound financial position."

The SVOG program, which was a result of the bipartisan Save Our Stages Act co-authored by Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar and Texas Senator John Cornyn, passed at the end of 2020 and ultimately became the largest single federal support program of the performing arts in U.S. history. It provided more than $16 billion in relief to nonprofit theaters, including the Guthrie, plus Broadway and commercial theaters, music venues, museums, movie theaters and more.

In addition to SVOG, the Guthrie received federal relief through the Paycheck Protection Program, with the amount loaned in FY20 forgiven in FY21, plus Employee Retention Credits applied to FY21. The State of Minnesota provided $1.157 million in unemployment compensation credits during FY21. The majority of expenses associated with the PPP loan were incurred in FY20, resulting in a $2.7 million deficit, whereas forgiveness of the loan in FY21 accounted for a $2.7 million surplus.

The Guthrie was also buoyed financially by generous contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals. More than 11,000 donors - 33% more than the previous season - contributed 51% of the Guthrie's budget.

For the entirety of the 2020-2021 Season, the Guthrie was shuttered and offered no in-person performances from March 13, 2020, to September 30, 2021. In October 2020, the theater's board of directors approved an FY21 expense budget that allowed the organization to maintain a group of continuous employees, create and promote virtual projects, commit to working with local Black artists, invest in commissions and begin capital projects. While its stages were dark, the Guthrie collaborated with local, national and International Artists and organizations to present a variety of virtual programs and events. The organization also worked strategically to rehire, rebuild its staff and prepare to resume performances in fall 2021.

Working in partnership with MN Black Theatre Circle, a coalition of Black theater artists in the Twin Cities, the Guthrie presented a monthly series of virtual performances from October 2020 to May 2021. Projects included I AM, curated by ShaVunda Brown, in partnership with Minnesota Black Theater Artists; A Breath for George, presented by New Dawn Theatre Company; STOOPIDITY, written and performed by Domino D'Lorion, Michael McKitt and Ian McCarthy; When Our Joy Matters, curated and produced by Ashawnti Sakina Ford, presented by The Black Ensemble Players; Missing Mississippi Moons, written and performed by Antonio Duke, directed by Ellen Fenster; The Uprising Volume II: Black HERstory, a Dark Muse Performing Arts production, written and directed by Vanessa Brooke Agnes; Dining With the Ancestors, conceived by Regina Marie Williams, written by Daaimah Mubashshir, directed by Signe V. Harriday; and Tears of a Willow, by Oya Mae Duchess, directed by Atlese Robinson. The series culminated in the Blackness Is... Arts Festival, which was intentionally scheduled one year after George Floyd's death. On May 21-23, 2021, the virtual festival featured 17 performances, four talkbacks, two workshops and more than 75 local artists.

For the 46th year, the Guthrie continued its annual A Christmas Carol tradition virtually through Dickens' Holiday Classic, adapted and directed by E.G. Bailey of Freestyle Films and Joseph Haj. Viewers from all 87 Minnesota counties, all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands and 15 other countries streamed the production. Additionally, an estimated 150,000 K-12 students experienced Dickens' Holiday Classic at no cost. Concurrently, the Guthrie selected a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol by Chicago-based theatermaker Lavina Jadhwani and set plans in motion to build an all-new onstage production for the 2021 holiday season.

In December 2020, the Guthrie also partnered with PlayCo, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, American Repertory Theater and Oregon Shakespeare Festival to co-produce Amir Nizar Zuabi's This Is Who I Am, a new play purpose-built for the Zoom landscape. The Guthrie also offered audiences a virtual presentation of Taylor Mac's Holiday Sauce... Pandemic!

Through the Guthrie's education initiatives, 5,000 students engaged with Guthrie teaching artists or other online programs, and 40 teaching artists spent more than 600 hours working with students virtually. While in-person programming was paused, Guthrie Education offered 75 virtual classes for artists and members of the community. Professional training for 62 students in the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Acting Program also pivoted online.

The Guthrie also continued vital work with members of the Native community. Highlights included collaboration with a seven-member Native Advisory Council on wide-ranging projects, Native fellowships to support the creation of Dickens' Holiday Classic and free classes for Native artists led by Native theatermakers.

While its stages were dark, the Guthrie made significant capital investments, which included reupholstering seats, repainting lobbies, adding new handrails in the theaters, installing high-efficiency MERV 13 air filters and more. In June 2021, the theater marked 15 years in its riverfront facility. In July 2021, the Guthrie reopened its doors to the public for the first time since March 2020.

The Guthrie closed its 2020-2021 Season with a highly anticipated in-person workshop of Shakespeare's History Plays, directed by Joseph Haj. For 12 days in August 2020, a group of artists gathered in Guthrie rehearsal rooms to workshop Richard II, Henry IV (Part 1 and Part 2) and Henry V in the hopes of producing the cycle in a future season.

The Guthrie Theater acknowledges that it resides on the traditional land of the Dakota People and honors with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations, including the Ojibwe and other Indigenous nations.

Guthrie Theater Reports Financial Stability At Annual Meeting

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