Tony-Winning Intiman Theatre Makes Public Plea in the Face of $1 Million Debt

News   Tony-Winning Intiman Theatre Makes Public Plea in the Face of $1 Million Debt
Seattle's Tony Award-winning Intiman Theatre is struggling to keep its doors open in the face of a $1 million financial crisis. Mounting debt due to financial mismanagement by the organization's previous leadership is being cited.

The Intiman has gone public with an appeal to raise $500,000 by the end of March, in addition to $250,000 by June and another quarter of a million by September in order to continue operation. The $1 million needed is in addition to the Intiman's 2011 fundraising goal.

The board of trustees, led by Kim Anderson, unearthed what the Intiman characterizes as a series of management failings, including inflated budget projections, unpaid bills and a lack of accounting oversight, which occurred during Brian Colburn's tenure as managing director.

Former director of development Melaine Bennett has been named as acting managing director and the Intiman has enlisted Barbara Anderson to step in as acting CFO. The staff has also been reduced to a four-day workweek. Since November, the Intiman has raised $874,315 to keep its doors open and to repay some of its debts.

The Intiman noted that Colburn resigned for personal reasons last November just as the organization uncovered details of the financial failings. Among the details revealed were unauthorized transfers of restricted funds in the Intiman Foundation account (which  supports programming) into the theatre's operating account.

Also noted was a misrepresentation of the company's financial stability, financial recording inaccuracies, a backlog of bookkeeping, lack of cash flow oversight and a mismanagement of financial agreements with co-producing entities. Union relationships were also strained when payments lapsed. Since November, the organization has caught up on unpaid taxes and has set up installment plans to pay rent for its Seattle Center home, as well as debts owed to vendors. The 2011 budget has also been cut by $1.4 million, a quarter of the previous 12-month budget.

Kate Whoriskey succeeded Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher (South Pacific, The Light in the Piazza) as artistic director of the Intiman last March. Sher departed his position to become the resident director of Lincoln Center Theater.

The Intiman staged the world premieres of The Kentucky Cycle and The Light in the Piazza. It was also the first regional company to stage Tony Kushner's two-part epic Angels in America, after its Broadway debut.


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