Park Square Theatre Celebrates Fundraising Success and New Strategic Plan

Supporters have raised significant new funding and brought others together to create a new, sustainable vision for the organization to support ongoing theatre programming.

October 9, 2023

Contact: Mike Zipko | 651-269-8756

(SAINT PAUL) After facing significant fiscal challenges, Park Square Theatre (PST) today announced it has successfully completed the first phase of fundraising and is making significant progress to complete a new strategic plan to keep the organization an active part of the community. Work by the board of directors, benefactors, staff, and other supporters raised $100,000 in the first week alone and has now secured a total of $550,000 to fund the first phase of the campaign.

The board’s strategic planning committee also worked with arts-oriented consultants and others from the broader theatre community to make significant progress towards a revised and more focused plan to make it possible for the theatre to balance its budget and be able to stage new performances, make sure its youth- focused activities continue, and allow other important programming to continue. More than 500 students recently participated in its summer program and the partnership with SteppingStone Theatre for Youth has expanded the ability to reach and engage more younger audiences – making it critically important this work continues.

“These have been both important and challenging times for Park Square and the fundraising results shows the strength and support this amazing organization has going forward,” said Mark Howlett, Park Square Theatre’s board chair. “Like other art and culture groups, we faced similar challenges following the pandemic where our costs increased dramatically while ticket sales did not rebound at the same rate. This forced us to make some key decisions and really engage our supporters. The fact we reached our first financial goal and are working to complete an updated strategic plan in a short time is beyond fantastic.”

Earlier this year Park Square had to cancel some of its performances and assess its overall budget. This led to a comprehensive review of Park Square’s strategic plan by working with consultants, engaging supporters, and broader community to find a vision that made both fiscal and creative sense. As work to complete the final parts of the plan continues, Park Square is now launching the next phase of their campaign to fund a sustainable, staged return to programming.

“We have brought people and ideas together through this process to create a vision that is fiscally responsible as well as creatively inspired,” Howlett said. “Park Square has a legacy of being part of this community and our board and leadership carried out our responsibility to make sure this continues. It has been rewarding work that will make Park Square ready for a stronger future.”

The new plan will include performances produced directly by the theatre as well as including other partners and additional performances at PST’s facilities. The plan is focused on financial recovery and the goal is restructuring the organization to operate more efficiency. To help complete this they have also hired arts consultants to analyze financial and organization sustainability.


Youth Programming and SteppingStone

In 2020, Park Square Theatre merged with SteppingStone to form SteppingStone Creative Learning. This new arm of the combined organization is dedicated to expanding educational programming and youth outreach. Prior to the merger, Park Square’s Theatre Education Program were able to reach approximately 25,000 middle and high school students each year through camps, Theatre during the Day, Immersion Day, and adult workshops.

The combined SteppingStone Creative Learning will be able to reach and significantly more engage artists and theatergoers from age 3 to 103. The enhanced program represents a significant opportunity to build future audiences for theater programming while also being able to impact more students.

The combined organization has a specific focus on engaging student learners to help them find academic success and develop future theater audiences for years to come. The programming includes classes and camps for young people, workshops for adults, as well as family-oriented programming for younger audiences to expand the impact of the combined organization.


“I am a strong supporter of Park Square and applaud the work they are doing to take on real challenges that have inspired these important strategic changes,” said Rich Pakonen, owner of the Historic Hamm Building. “This part of Saint Paul is distinctive and inviting because of places like Park Square and how it is a key part of the historic Hamm Building and the excitement that comes from their productions. Their vision to give more groups access to their stage to host more events throughout the year will make this an even more active part of downtown at a key time for the community.”

Park Square started in 1975 with 70 seats and has grown to a multi-stage, 550-seat professional theatre offering creative programming across multiple genres. While today the theatre had to cancel some productions, the new plan and resource development has allowed the theatre to reconnect with its founding principles and a stronger fiscal foundation to make sure it will be stronger and more engaging than ever before.



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