Aisle Seat

Down But Not Out
Rumors about Intersection for the Arts have been floating about lately. It's true that the 30-year-old institution has faced some serious financial straits, but about three weeks ago the dreaded word “closed” started flying. What fueled that rumor was a blip in operations, when the staff was laid off for about a week while the board scrambled to figure out what to do next. “If we were doing a figure-skating routine, it was like we skated backward, we skated forward, then we had to stay absolutely still for a minute in the middle of the routine,” says board chair Eric Ehn. After the layoffs, Ehn says, the staff is “more or less” back on salary. “We're trying to pay Charles [Wilmoth, literary director]; of course, we can never pay him what he's worth. The executive director and the office manager are back on staff, and Kate Boyd is on retainer as theater manager.” Interim executive director Kate Eilertsen says the ray of light came when the board met with Intersection's major funders — like S.F. Foundation, Haas Fund and Hotel Tax Grants — and those folks offered to help out with some “technical assistance.” That means for the next three months, Intersection will perform an intensive re-evaluation with the help of consultants and the like, in order to redefine its mission and, more specifically, to create a five-year financial plan for the near-destitute organization. “We have to change the way we do art, us and everyone else on this bus,” Ehn adds. “But Charles is really making this [literary program] work, which is an example of how art can grow in a time of crisis. It's become the host site for the poetry slam, which has a lot of energy and a lot of young energy, which is the way we need to grow.” LATA (Latin American Theater Artists) will stage A Midsummer Night's Dream there next month as scheduled, and poets continue to stop at Intersection's podium when they blow through town. “People will still get an uninterrupted flow of art. It's how we serve the art and the artist [that will change],” Ehn says. As for those monstrous debts? “We got 'em. That's what gives us thick frozen fingers when we want to caress the cheeks of our artists.” With any luck, this marks the beginning of a thaw.

This Way Down
It's been dubbed a “darkly comic voyage in the gay '90s,” via the “cabs, cafes and closets of San Francisco.” Heading South, by Brian Thorstenson and directed by David Dower (Say Grace), is a project of Z Space Studio, which was originally designed to give plays a full gestation period and to spare audiences the agony of watching embryonic works. Heading South has been in development for near-ly two years, so it's ready to roll at 450 Geary Studio Theater, S.F.; call 673-1172.

By Laura Jamison

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