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HUGE Improv Theater seeks community support to avoid permanent closure

Minneapolis’ HUGE Improv Theater in danger of closing
Minneapolis’ HUGE Improv Theater in danger of closing 03:02

MINNEAPOLIS — A Minneapolis staple is at risk of closing for good. 

HUGE Improv Theater has been in the Twin Cities scene for nearly 20 years. But this last year brought some unexpected financial challenges.

Founders say right now they're facing a make it or break it moment, and the theater is looking for community support to help turn things around. 

The stage is an actor's playground and these thespians are having a ball. 

"Why do we have live theater in 2024, when there's so many great other digital options?" HUGE co-founder Jill Bernard said. "It's to feel alive. It's to be together and feel alive."

And they're doing it all without a script. It's long-form improvisation and HUGE Improv Theater has been running with the concept since 2005.

"There's something about being able to laugh together that helps us overcome anything," Bernard said.

But Bernard says right now, the theater needs help.

"A lot of things added up really quickly," Bernard said. "This is a time when any amount of money will help."

A new location and unexpected expenses have put the nonprofit in a dangerous position. 

"We're running short every month and it would be great to get over the hump and see what we can do, so that's why we are having this Springtacular," Bernard said.

The Springtacular fundraiser has a goal to raise $50,000.

"The theater is in a really fragile spot right now," Bernard said.

Bernard said ticket sales so far in 2024 are up 30% and the theater's education program is thriving. 

But if the theater can't get past this hump, this could be it.

"That would be devastating," student and volunteer Kendra Hoffman said. "I'll be really honest, that would be devastating."

Now a place she calls home, Hoffman remembers her first class at Huge. 

"I've been treated like I was weird my whole life, and my very first improv class, literally one of the first things the teacher said was, 'Whatever is about to come out of your mouth is exactly what the scene needs,'" she said.

Purposeful inclusivity that's created a home for hundreds of actors over the years, with hope to continue that work for years to come.

"We're making an art form that everyone can participate in," Bernard said. "Heal some of the wounds with joy and love and laughter."

As of Sunday morning, HUGE Improv Theater has raised a little over $47,000.

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