Guthrie plans new space for 9th floor, with $9 tickets to keep it accessible

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The Guthrie Theater's ninth floor will be transformed into a "theatrical hub" – and they hope to keep the arts performances there accessible to all communities by keeping ticket prices at $9.

Right now the ninth floor of the Minneapolis theater includes the Dowling Studio – a 200-seat "black box" performance space with shows that, during the 2015-16 season, range from $15-$30. There's also an amber box overlook and retractable wall.

But the Guthrie said Wednesday it landed a $1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to turn the entire ninth floor into a brand new space.

Called the Level Nine initiative, it'd be a theater that "wrestles with urgent questions and inspires dynamic dialogue with its audience, expands the diversity of voices, visions and styles on its stages," the release says.

A big part of the project is ticket cost. All tickets to performances on Level Nine will cost $9, a way to "ensure access for all communities" and open it up to communities "underserved" by the theater's work right now.

What will be happening there

There will be a handful of Guthrie productions there during the next few years, new play development over the next three seasons, local and regional pieces, and even the occasional "happenings" performance – a community-involved event that is responding to current events as they happen.

They're also hoping to turn the floor's lobby space into something that better allows for things like conversations or gatherings, to keep the community involved.

“In today’s world we face increasingly complex questions, yet we have fewer places where we can come together as a community to grapple with and address them," Artistic Director Joseph Haj said in the release. "With this funding we are afforded the opportunity to be nimble and responsive to what’s happening in the world around us."

The money will come as $750,000 over the next three years, plus $250,000 through a matching grant.

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