Penumbra reports surplus, a year after cancelling productions due to deficit

After almost folding, St Paul’s Penumbra Theatre Monday reported a surplus of almost $131,000.

The nationally-known African-American theater faced a million dollar deficit more than a year ago. The financial picture was so bleak, Penumbra laid off six staff members and suspended its 2012 – 2013 season. But as the funds rolled in, Penumbra was able to resume programming, including the play, “Spunk”.

Managing director Chris Widdess said it’s significant that more than 60 percent of the donations came from individuals, a first for the theater founded in 1976.

Widdess said a new five-year business plan preserves the best of the company’s traditions.

“We are not changing who we are. We are not changing what we do. But we are changing how we go about doing it,” Widdess said.

The business plan includes a commitment to financial sustainability, bringing about a successful artistic and administrative leadership transition and the implementation of new artistic vision.

Penumbra also is working on more community involvement.