Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kate Nordstrum is leaving the Southern Theater

In the wake of the Southern Theater's recent financial meltdown (long story short: years of cash flow problems; a $300,000 deficit; the major no-no of commingling funds from the McKnight Foundation with operational funds, and the resulting end of its relationship with the McKnight; board implosion; cry for help and donations; disappointing turnout at annual fundraiser; staff cuts), music programmer Kate Nordstrum, who survived the cuts but with reduced hours, has announced that she is leaving.

Here's the email she sent to friends and colleagues earlier today:
After great and of course very difficult deliberation, I've made the decision to leave the Southern Theater after more than 5 years of truly rewarding work. I am especially proud of the new music program that was created less than 3 years ago, which is now so vital to the Twin Cities' music and performance scene, evidence of an underrepresented programmatic niche that I -- more than ever -- believe needs to be cultivated and nurtured. This is the work I'm going to continue to do independently and within organizations & structures that, at this time, can support artists and new projects most effectively.

To the amazing artists I've worked with closely at the Southern: Thank you for sharing your talents, creative aspirations, and performance visions with me. I am confident that my move will ultimately serve to support your work more fully.

To Southern patrons and supporters, staff (past and present), partners, co-presenters, sponsors, members of the press, and to my performing art presenter colleagues: I get very emotional thinking about all the ways in which each of you have supported, encouraged and championed the very important programming -- specifically new work, new series and festival concepts, and long-lead projects by independent artists -- that's happened on the Southern stage these past 5 years but also long before my time at the theater. Being a part of this programmatic mission has shaped me in substantial ways, and will very much remain my active focus. 

I'm very sad to hear this. It's bad for the Southern, it's bad for our local arts community, it's bad for artists (local and national), and it's bad for me personally. I had learned to count on Kate to open my ears to music I would otherwise have passed by. An email from her saying "You should hear this" was enough for me. Over the past few years of attending her shows at the Southern, I've discovered that jazz (especially free/improvisational jazz) and new music occupy the same general space in my brain. Thanks to Kate, I have more music to experience, enjoy, struggle with, and think about. We all need guides in our musical explorations, people who will kick us out of our comfort zones and get us to taste the hot sauce or ride the rollercoaster. I already feel her absence. I hope she doesn't go too far. 


  1. I feel the same way! But look!

  2. Thank you, Abby.

    This, too!