Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

MTYP making strides toward reducing debt

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MANITOBA Theatre for Young People recorded a $137,000 operating surplus on its tumultuous 2012-13 season, while reducing its overall debt to $1.6 million.

At its annual general meeting Tuesday, the board and members of the public were told the theatre company has made significant headway in escaping the financial jackpot that in the last year threatened its solvency and future.

"The news is good news," said board president Gloria Koop. "We are managing in a responsible manner. It's good that everyone knows that we have the ability to run a viable not-for-profit company."

Recently, MTYP cleared $330,000 in payables off the books with the help of the Winnipeg Foundation and other sponsors. Cash flow has increased to $55,000 for the year, compared with a year ago, when it was in a negative cash flow position.

Management has also tightened the screws on its fiscal performance in concert by scaling back its 2013-14 season to five plays. The annual budget has dropped to $2.1 million from $2.5 million last season. It no longer takes advances from its funders or carries a line of credit. Its annual production costs will be consistent with its financial means.

"We are doing what we can afford to," Koop said during an interview prior to the annual general meeting. "We are watching every nickel going out the door."

The board's attention will turn to its accumulated $1.6-million debt, which has burdened MTYP since it was unable to pay the entire cost of its distinctive $5.6-million home that opened at The Forks in 1999. At the meeting, it was announced that a capital drive committee was being struck with the mandate to raise $2 million and return the company to the black. It will last until the target is reached.

Koop said that MTYP has steadied under artistic producer Derek Aasland and interim general manager Max Reimer. The positive momentum has carried over to this season. Its first production, Jack and the Bean, played to a heartening 84 per cent of capacity.

"Change is stressful and growth is difficult but we are coming through it very well," Koop said.

kevin.prokosh@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 16, 2013 D3

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