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caption: Actors Allyson Lee Brown and Ayo Tushinde in Intiman Theatre's 2019 production of "Bulrusher."
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Actors Allyson Lee Brown and Ayo Tushinde in Intiman Theatre's 2019 production of "Bulrusher."
Credit: Courtesy of Intiman Theatre/Naomi Ishisaka

The show will go on at Intiman Theatre

The curtain will rise again at Seattle's Intiman Theatre.

That wasn't a foregone conclusion in September, when the nonprofit theater’s board of directors announced, citing an impending $7,000 budget shortfall, that it advised closing the company for good.

Staff members opposed closure. Instead they launched a campaign to raise $200,000 by the end of the calendar year. The money would both erase the potential shortfall and serve as a cushion going into the future. The company has raised $130,000 toward that goal.

Intiman also hired consultants Carlo Scandiuzzi and Josef Krebs to serve as interim managing directors and to help a newly reconstituted board develop a new operating model.

Founded in 1972, Intiman is one of Seattle’s oldest theaters. In 2011, citing a fiscal emergency, the company ceased operations. One year later, a leaner Intiman reopened, with actors drawn from both the city’s professional theater community and the Cornish College of the Arts student population.

For the past seven years, in an effort to avoid a reprisal of the fiscal crisis that shut it down, Intiman has raised the costs of each theater production in advance.

Development director Wesley Fruge says “we’ve just been operating on that cash basis, and that’s kept us from looking at Intiman’s role in the (city’s) larger theater ecosphere.”

Several years ago, Intiman refocused its artistic mission, to “wrestle with American inequities.”

Fruge acknowledges that the plays Intiman produces can be challenging for audiences. “We’re not doing ‘The Little Mermaid' here,” Fruge says.

Last spring, in alignment with its artistic mission, Intiman decided to try offering free tickets to all patrons. The company raised $140,000 to fund the pilot initiative. Fruge says the pilot, “Free for Everyone,” did not contribute to the September budget crunch.

Intiman will continue to run its two training programs: Starfish, which trains high school youth in backstage theater crafts and its emerging artists program, offering opportunities to young theater artists.

Fruge says in January, Intiman will launch a series of public conversations about the theater’s future. It will also announce plans for 2020 performances.