The Seattle Repertory Theatre has amassed an operating deficit of more than $800,000 over the past three years, managing director Jeffrey Herrmann said.
The Seattle Repertory Theatre has amassed an operating deficit of more than $800,000 over the past three years, and has also used substantial funds from its endowment, which is currently about $11 million, to cover budget expenses during that period, confirms Rep managing director Jeffrey Herrmann.
Last May, Herrmann told The Seattle Times that layoffs in the Rep education department and termination of popular education programs (two of which have been picked up by other local organizations), were not due to serious financial problems but part of a broader strategic plan.
This week, Herrmann acknowledged the mounting deficit and that it prompted some “excruciating” budgeting decisions in the spring.
The former manager of Washington, D.C.’s Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Herrmann stated that the Rep board of directors was “very candid” with him about the cloudy financial picture, before he agreed to assume his post last year.
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He added that the projected debt for 2014-15 was about $1.25 million in January 2015. But by the end of the fiscal year, it was reduced to about $250,000 through fundraising, higher-than-expected ticket sales and recent cost-cutting measures.
“It will take us a couple of years to right the ship,” said Herrmann. “But given our endowment, our budgeting and a line of credit we have, I’m confident we can do it.” He noted that the theater’s main priorities now are maintaining its high standard of artistic production, and beefing up fundraising and marketing efforts.
Herrmann declined to speculate on the causes for the deficit, except to note that at least one expensive, long-term project has paid off over the long run, in last season’s box office and critical success of the LBJ bio-dramas, “All the Way” and “The Great Society.”