Southern Theater leadership remains optimistic

The executive director of the Southern Theater, Gary Peterson says he is “cautiously hopeful” his organization will raise the $400,000 it says it needs to stay afloat.

But Peterson says the Southern may not have all the money by the self imposed deadline of tomorrow night. In a conversation earlier today with MPR’s Euan Kerr, Peterson said the following:

To be sure, it’s entirely possible we are going to fall short by some amount from the $400,000 goal. However there are a number of things in the works that, still, if they all happen, will put us above the goal.

The Southern’s board launched the emergency drive last week to raise money to pay off outstanding debts. This in the wake of news the McKnight Foundation had withdrawn its support from the performane venue when it realized the Southern had used dance fellowship money to instead operate the building.

Peterson says the board is meeting daily to discuss the situation:

As we’ve been going along we have been forming up some contingencies: what does it take to go for two weeks, what does it take to go for three months and a year… and on what kind of basis?

Peterson says $400,000 is what the organization needs in order to make a decent stab at staying open for another hear and to get back on firm financial footing. The theater must also return a further $300,000 dollars to the McKnight Foundation. He says he has seen angry reactions to the Southern’s financial situation in comments sections on the news sites from people questioning how it got to this point. But he’s also received support:

People have a right to be angry and express it. I get that, But we have had just over 250 gifts since last Thursday evening at 8pm when we started this particular drive.

Peterson says the organization could really use something closer to a million dollars, but knows that’s not a realistic possibility.

Tomorrow night the Southern is hosting its annual fundraiser “Southern Exposure,” featuring both a silent and live auctions.