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NEWS: Southern Theater Executive Director Steps Down

The Southern Theater in 2010. Photo by Tony Webster; used in accordance with the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

The Southern Theater’s Executive Director Damon Runnals is stepping down on October 29. This latest step in a round of reshuffling and transitions in the Twin Cities theatre scene marks the end of an 8-year tenure at the Southern in various capacities, in which Runnals rose from Production and Operations Manager in 2008 to General Manager in 2011 to Executive Director in January 2013. According to a press release issued by the Southern Theater, Runnals is leaving the organization to join Clockwork, an interactive design and technology agency whose clients include Best Buy, 3M, and Cargill.

Damon Runnals, the outgoing Executive Director of the Southern Theater.
Damon Runnals, the outgoing Executive Director of the Southern Theater.

In a post on Facebook, Runnals said, “I’m filled with mixed emotions but have known for most of this year that my time was drawing to a close.” Runnals will continue as the owner of Swandive Theatre, which he founded with Meg DiSciorio in 2005.

Runnals first joined the Southern Theater in September 2008, a turbulent time for the organization after a major staff shakeup that saw the departure of long-time artistic director Jeff Bartlett and most of the rest of the staff. Another shakeup occurred in 2011, when issues related to the organization’s high debt load (accrued during a renovation) precipitated a major crisis. In the resulting restructuring and operational shutdown, Runnals was appointed General Manager in July 2011 (its sole employee) and Executive Director in January 2013, reopening the theatre’s doors.

During his tenure, Runnals rebuilt connections and donor relations, eliminated significant amounts of organizational debt, expanded the operational budget, and crafted the innovative ARTShare subscriber model that has reinvigorated the space as a major arts tenant drawing people to the Seven Corners district. In 2016, the Southern is scheduled to play host to 23 resident and guest companies.

Read the press release from the Southern Theater announcing the departure of Damon Runnals.

Basil Considine