Guthrie Theatre artistic director Joe Dowling, who has shepherded the leading nonprofit theatre through a four-year period of "unprecedented growth," has had his contract extended by the Guthrie board of directors. Dowling's contract now runs through June 2005.
The announcement of Dowling's contract extension, which was met with applause by the Guthrie board at its annual meeting last month, was made by Guthrie board president and General Mills CEO and president, Stephen Sanger.
At a glance, Guthrie attendance for the 1999-2000 season was 425,548 which is up 65,000 from the previous season. Guthrie claims 32,000 members in its subscriber base, representing a 43 percent rise since Dowling came to lead the Twin Cities theatre. The Guthrie also reports a 32 percent rise in earned income and says the theatre has been running at 89 percent of capacity.
Collaborations with producer Cameron Mackintosh, St. Paul's Penumbra Theatre and the Walker Art Center, as well as the introduction of works by playwrights Arthur Miller, John Guare, Rita Dove and Warren Leight were said to be instrumental in redirecting the theatre toward greater success.
The Guthrie has been running several programs, including Guthrie on Tour, which brought theatre to 50,000 people, and the educational programs Schools on Stage, MAX Conference, Project SUCCESS and Guthrie Experience for Actors In Training which served 115,000 young people and adults this past season. There have been growing pains associated with the expansion at Guthrie. The theatre is spread out over five separate facilities and is seeking to centralize. The current plan is to acquire a develop the site of a mill ruin located alongside the Mississippi River. Negotiations with between the city government are the theatre are taking place.
Meanwhile, these plans give some context to the Guthrie board's extension of Dowling's contract, which is as much a vote of confidence as it is the theatre's best assurance of fostering creative stability during a period of expansion.
Also announced as a result of the Guthrie annual meeting in July were several board appointments. Continuing on the board are Guthrie board president Stephen Sanger, board chair Karen Bachman and secretary Charles Zelle. The new treasurer of the board is Kendrick Melrose.
There were also several new appointments to the board at Guthrie including Sue Bennett (Minneapolis Foundation, formerly of Pillsbury), Frances J. Davis (Coldwell Banker Burnet, Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors), Douglas R. Donaldson (Strategic Marketing Solutions), Michael D. Goldner (Goldner Hawn Johnson & Morrison), Philip G. Heasley (U.S. Bancorp), Margery G. Hughes (Allianz Life Insurance), William A. Johnstone (Dorsey and Whitney LLP), Tamrah Schaller O'Neil (Dexon Computers), Tyrone K. Thayer (Worldwide Cargill Foods and Procurement), Karl J. Breyer (American Express) and Louise Otten (Alpine Farms).
-- By Murdoch McBride