Guthrie Theater furloughs staff, makes repairs

The Guthrie Theater is furloughing the majority of its full time non-union employees for a week in January.

The Guthrie employees approximately 140 full time staff; approximately 60% of them are non-union.

Guthrie Theater’s Director of External Relations Trish Santini would not say how much the move will save the company. She says the decision takes advantage of the fact that the building is closed to the public this month for repairs and maintenance.

“It is particularly critical at this time that we make these choices when there’s still plenty of time to be responsive.” explained Santini. “If you wait too late in a year you find yourself often less flexible in your ability to manage the budget and end where you want to at the end of the year. So the decision was made to do this earlier. Given that the theater was dark it was a logical time to request that folks take their time then.”

While the box office and Sea Change restaurant remain open, the Guthrie will otherwise be closed to the public until Feb. 4.

This allows the theater to do such routine maintenance as refinishing floors, cleaning carpets and replacing damaged theater seats. The most important upgrade involves replacing the house light operating system for all three stages.

“As you can imagine technology has changed pretty dramatically since we opened [in 2006], so it was time,” said Santini.

This is not the first time the theater company has furloughed staff since it moved into the theater complex along the Mississippi River.

Santini says the furlough has nothing to do with last year’s budget deficit. “That’s a whole separate piece – once your year is done, it’s done, and it all begins again.”