Guthrie ends fiscal year with surplus thanks to federal relief bill

·3 min read

Jan. 25—Though it had no performances on stage during its 2020-21 season due to the pandemic shutdown, the Guthrie Theatre announced Monday it ended its fiscal year with a "modest surplus" of $27,500.

The financial results were announced at the Guthrie's annual meeting on Monday and credited to more than $7 million from the federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program. The Minneapolis theater's 2020-21 fiscal year began Sept. 1, 2020, and ended Aug. 31, 2021.

In a news release, managing director James Haskins said, "During the 18-month shutdown, when the Guthrie would have generated an estimated $29 million in earned revenues, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program provided the Guthrie and venues across the country with the foundational relief to open our doors once again." The bipartisan Save Our Stages Act, co-authored by Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Texas Sen. John Cornyn, passed at the end of 2020 and became the largest single federal support program of the performing arts in U.S. history, according to the Guthrie news release. It provided more than $16 billion in relief to nonprofit theaters, including the Guthrie, plus Broadway and commercial theaters, music venues, museums, movie theaters and more.

The Guthrie also received federal relief through the Paycheck Protection Program, with the amount loaned in fiscal year 2020 forgiven in fiscal year 2021, plus Employee Retention Credits applied to fiscal year 2021. The State of Minnesota provided $1.157 million in unemployment compensation credits during fiscal year 2021. The majority of expenses associated with the PPP loan were incurred in fiscal year 2020, resulting in a $2.7 million deficit, and forgiveness of the loan in fiscal year 2021 accounted for a $2.7 million surplus.

According to the annual report, more than 11,000 donors (33 percent more than the previous season) contributed 51 percent of the Guthrie's budget.

While onstage performances were shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Guthrie reached audiences through virtual programming and events. The Guthrie worked with MN Black Theatre Circle, a coalition of Black theater artists in the Twin Cities, to present a monthly series of virtual performances from October 2020 to May 2021. The Guthrie's 46th annual production of "A Christmas Carol" was presented virtually in 2020 in a film titled "Dickens' Holiday Classic."

A new adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" opened the Guthrie's 2021-22 season in November, but the last weekend of performances were shut down by the COVID surge due to the omicron variant. The theater's mainstage production of "A Raisin in the Sun," which was was scheduled to open Jan. 12, has been postponed and is now expected to open in late spring 2022. The theater's production of "Destiny of Desire," which was slated to run on the McGuire Proscenium Stage from April 30 through June 5 before a run on Broadway has been canceled. According to the Guthrie, because of performance cancellations across the U.S. due to COVID-19, multiple "Destiny of Desire" artists face delayed projects at other theaters, which have created scheduling conflicts.