Star Tribune photo by David Joles.


After severe budget cuts in June 2011 and the elimination of most staff positions, a much-diminished Southern Theater is on the rise again. The West Bank Minneapolis venue, which used to have a $1.1 million budget, has released an annual report with a balance sheet ending in the black. The theater had a $34,000 operating surplus, with income of $152,463 and expenses of $114,637.

General manager Damon Runnals, the theater’s only fulltime employee, reported that the Southern held three fundraisers that netted $22,000. He said Wednesday that he is “extremely proud” to report these results, which reflected the commitment of the Southern’s board and the continued support of key stakeholders such as artists and audiences. 

The Southern served 38 artists and organizations in the 2012 fiscal year ending Aug. 31, including Ananya Dance Theatre, Pangea World Theatre and Live Action Set. 

The theater reported that it used its 2012 surplus and funds raised the previous year to eliminate $53,000 in debt to artists, vendors, ticket holders, and independent contractors. The theater also made capital improvements in its heating and cooling systems. 

The Southern still has a $300,000 debt that it has to repay the McKnight Foundation. 

"We're in conversation about that," he said. "But I couldn’t be happier with the amount of community support we have from artists -- we’re booked out through December of 2013 with only a handful of dates open. We didn’t have to turn into a roadhouse or go dark. We’re still a vibrant part of the cultural landscape and that’s a great thing.”

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