“With a fully stocked all-you-can-eat buffet of emotions, we announce that Bedlam Lowertown will be closing on November 2,” said Maren Ward, the artistic director, and Dan Spock, board president, in a recent blog post.
While the company is 23 years old, it’s Lowertown location was a short-lived two-and-a-half years. The theater’s avant-garde mission was to produce theatrical works with a focus on collaboration and presenting professional and community art, from plays to dances, cabarets to convocations. “Fun, wild, anything-is-possible theater is our passion,” according to the company’s website.
But even with that passion, the venue could not financially sustain, proving to be a big struggle. In fact, in August 2015, the company launched a capital campaign to try to stay alive. They hosted a series of beer nights and happy hours to help address their money woes.
Bedlam’s opening was delayed a year due to construction and code issues and the project overran its anticipated cost by $600,000. “After nearly closing on its first anniversary, community, board and staff rallied to keep it open for another year while multiple stakeholders strategized to overcome the debt situation,” the company wrote in the statement. “Though serious efforts were in the works, the clock has run out on some significant debts and we must close.”
And while company’s closing is a blow to St. Paul’s Lowertown neighborhood, the theater wants to “spend our last few weeks in celebration of the vision that was tested and tried, the relationships made, and the community.” Some final events include a Halloween night costume party, featuring timisarocker and The Confused Brothers Band, as well as a community celebration of Día de los Muertos, with an evening full of live music, poetry, face painting, and food, celebrating the traditional Mexican holiday.
“We hope that something equally if not more magical happens in this venue going forward,” Ward and Spock addressed. “We don’t see this as a failure though we recognize the impact such a venture has had—the ups and the downs and the unpaid bills. The Bedlam Board will continue to trouble shoot the debt. The fate of Bedlam Theatre is unclear at this time. We will keep you posted.”
For more information on Bedlam Lowertown’s events, check out their Facebook page.