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Coronavirus In Minnesota: Guthrie Theater To Lay Off Staff, Moves Next Show Date To March 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Guthrie Theater's finance committee has reviewed and approved a budget for a "more modest season," that moves their re-opening date to March of 2021, amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The remainder of the 2019 - 2020 season was already cancelled back on March 28. Now, their new budget projects a total income of $12.6 million, which is down from an original amount forecast at $31 million.

That change means the theater will now only have a three-play season from March to August of 2021. "Sweat" and "Private Lives" will go on, along with a third performance that is yet to be decided. The move also means some positions at the theatre will be eliminated and some staff will be laid off, either short or long term.

The organization had previously hoped to produce nine shows on a compressed schedule with a smaller budget, but they've now decided that those plans were "neither feasible nor sustainable."

If current conditions improve and organizers are able to ensure the safety of staff and audience members, they say they would move to get a show on stage before March 2021. However, as of now that is not planned in the current budget. Vice versa, if the pandemic worsens the theater is also ready to move its re-opening back to a later date.

Management says the nature of their operation depends on "long timelines to build productions" and "revenue that is only secure when performances happen," -- explaining that the organization would've been at a great risk of running out of funds if they'd had to postpone or cancel several productions in the fall and winter.

In a letter to employees, Guthrie's Artistic Director Joseph Haj wrote:

"I'm reminded that the Guthrie's first season was four shows, May - September of 1963, and from those four shows we grew. We will grow again and we will thrive again. But, for a time, we will necessarily be a much smaller version of ourselves. We remain focused on our mission, vision, and values and are taking steps now to ensure that we will come back in a way that allows us to grow and continue to serve the amazing community that has supported us for nearly 60 years."

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