Intiman's last call for funding

After laying out its plan for a financial and artistic makeover last month, the Intiman Theatre released a new (and quickly approaching) deadline for its funding appeal this week. But can the theatre's last-ditch effort reinvigorate weary patrons and already-burdened philanthropists?

Crosscut archive image.

The courtyard at the Intiman Theatre at Seattle Center.

After laying out its plan for a financial and artistic makeover last month, the Intiman Theatre released a new (and quickly approaching) deadline for its funding appeal this week. But can the theatre's last-ditch effort reinvigorate weary patrons and already-burdened philanthropists?

A month after Intiman Theatre unveiled its plan for artistic and financial reinvention, the beleaguered non-profit has released one last public fundraising appeal. On Monday, Board President Terry Jones and Artistic Director Andrew Russell sent out a mass email to past Intiman supporters. In it, they apologized for cancelling most of the 2011 artistic season, and for “failing to adequately oversee the organization’s financial management.” And, along with promises of dialing back the budget and initiating new financial controls, the email invites supporters to help Intiman get back on its feet for a 40th season.

Artistic Director Russell has proposed a four-play summer festival for July and August, 2012, to be performed by a repertory company of twelve local actors. But Intiman won’t mount the festival unless it can raise one million dollars by January 31. If Intiman makes its goal, 2011 subscribers will get free tickets for the entire festival, and non-subscribers will be able to purchase “affordable” tickets. However, if Intiman doesn’t come up with pledges for the full million dollars by the end of January, Russell and Jones say the theater company will “celebrate 40 years of quality theatre and close the doors for good.”

Intiman shut down last spring, after independent consultant Susan Trapnell came on board. She was hired to sort out the company’s mangled finances. Even though Intiman had raised almost half a million dollars in an emergency appeal to keep the artistic season going, Trapnell determined that financial projections were overly optimistic. She recommended Intiman cancel the remainder of the season, and re-think its business plan. Eight months later, the theater says its ready to reopen.

The big question is whether Intiman can convince even its most loyal patrons to rally to the cause yet again. ACT Theatre managed to put itself back on relatively solid financial ground after a similar meltdown several years ago. It’s now operating with a balanced budget. So are some of Seattle’s smaller nonprofit theaters. But, given the lingering impact of the Great Recession, and the pull on private philanthropists from many other worthy organizations, it’s hard to say whether potential donors will step up. Intiman’s new leaders are going to have to wait another six weeks to find out if their mea culpas, and their promises, are good enough to convince the community to take one more chance on theater.

  

About the Authors & Contributors

Marcie Sillman

Marcie Sillman is a longtime radio journalist and co-host of the arts & culture podcast DoubleXposure.