- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Guthrie Theater said Wednesday it plans to make its ninth-floor theater into a hub that could host gatherings aimed at engaging underserved members of the community.

The Tony-winning Minneapolis theater announced it has received a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to underwrite the initiative.

To help provide greater access, all tickets on the ninth floor will be cut to $9. Typical pricing in the studio theater now ranges from $15 to $35.

The Guthrie’s ninth level is home to the 200-seat Dowling Studio as well as the “amber box” overlook and a retractable wall between the performance space and its lobby.

“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,” Guthrie artistic director Joseph Haj said in a statement. “With this funding we are afforded the opportunity to be nimble and responsive to what’s happening in the world around us.”



The foundation has donated $750,000 for the project over a three-year period and will provide an additional $250,000 through a matching grant. The Guthrie will implement Haj’s vision for Level Nine starting in the 2016-17 season, his first fully-programmed lineup as the theater’s new leader.

As part of the initiative, the Guthrie will program three to four shows during each of its next three seasons and will hold a pre- or post-show event inspired by the work for audience members at each performance. Upgrades will be made to the Level Nine lobby to better host conversations and salon-style settings, and the Guthrie will offer periodic “happenings,” including town hall meetings, dance parties and readings in response to current events.

The Guthrie also plans to commission a major work by an accomplished playwright each year for the next three seasons that address social issues, and will hire a director of community engagement to develop and oversee community-based programming.

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Online:

Guthrie Theater: https://www.guthrietheater.org

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