Penumbra Theater to resume shows after navigating its own fiscal cliff

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The Penumbra Theater in St. Paul has survived a financial crisis and will resume productions in the spring.

Penumbra was founded by Lou Bellamy in 1976 and quickly became the nation's preeminent African-American theater company. Its latest round of fiscal problems had some in the theater world wondering if Penumbra would survive. But a spring season will feature a production based on stories of Zora Neale Hurston.

On Penumbra's website Bellamy thanked supporters for contributing to a campaign that raised $359,000. That helped the theater dig out of a financial hole that prompted staff layoffs and an indefinite hiatus of productions last September.

The New York Times reports that around the country culturally specific theaters have had a hard time emerging from the Recession. While it's healthy enough to return to the stage, Penumbra is not out of the financial woods yet. Bellamy tells MPR a new business plan is in the works and changes are needed to ensure the theater's long-term viability.

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