Announcement: Sunsetting Patrick's Cabaret

Dear Friends of Patrick’s Cabaret,

Today we are announcing that our Spring Season of events will be our grand finale, and Patrick’s Cabaret will sunset (close permanently) this summer. Patrick’s Cabaret is not in a financial or leadership crisis, and has no debt, but we face the reality that financial resources are not available for us to sustain the organization’s work. Our projections indicate we must cease operations in approximately 8 months.

It pains us that this decision to sunset comes at a time when interest and engagement in Patrick’s Cabaret’s programming is thriving—our programs served more than 500 artists in the last year, nearly double the artists served when we were in the firehouse.

In 2016, Patrick’s Cabaret’s landlord terminated the organization’s lease. Leading up to this, and especially in the last two years while we have been mobile, the organization's mission, vision, and programming have evolved to more effectively serve artists and audiences on the edge of culture—especially artists of color, with disabilities, and with queer and trans identities. Losing the venue at a key moment of our transformation meant the planned gradual shift of our programming focus was accelerated.

Without a permanent venue to anchor that transformation of identity, and without the flexible earned income we once generated through venue rentals, we know that in less than a year we will be unable to raise the financial resources necessary to sustain the organization’s work, much less conduct a capital campaign to secure a new building on a realistic timeline.

The board and leadership have explored many possible options, and the decision to sunset Patrick’s Cabaret with so much advance notice allows the organization the rare opportunity to share one final amazing season and conclude the organization’s lifespan with integrity and positivity.

Patrick’s Cabaret will produce the Spring Season as planned. The Spring Season fundraising event slated for June will serve as a final celebration of the organization’s impact.

During the next few months Patrick’s Cabaret still needs to raise $11,000 from individual donors to support the organization’s final season and cross the finish line having met all commitments. If fundraising exceeds the organization’s needs, the Cabaret will re-grant the balance to other mission-aligned organizations in the community. Information about making donations is available at patrickscabaret.org/donate.

The board and staff join me in immense gratitude to all of the artists, donors, communities, and audiences who have made Patrick’s Cabaret’s work possible. Patrick’s Cabaret is committed to both celebrating the organization’s three-decade legacy and bringing attention to what the next generation of artists on the edge of culture needs to thrive.

Thank you for being part of the epic story of Patrick’s Cabaret. Now come out and enjoy the sunset.

Gratefully,

Scott Artley, Executive Artistic Director

Be a part of our Sunset Season

  • Start sharing your memories on social media by tagging @patrickscabaret or using the hashtag #patrickscabaret. Be sure to make your posts public!
  • Want to talk with us right away? Come to our Spring Season Kick-Off Social tonight and hang out with the Cabaret family.
  • Come to shows this season. Learn more about our Spring Season.
  • Come to the first Community Roundtable where we will discuss how to “pass the torch” to the next generation of artists and organizers. - Feb 26th, time and location to be determined.
  • Volunteer at events, with special projects like a mailing, or as part of our final celebration event planning committee. Learn more about volunteering.
  • Donate to support our sunset season of activities. Donate.
  • Fundraise on our behalf by hosting an event or making a special appeal to your network. Connect with Scott at scott@patrickscabaret.org if you are interested.

FAQs

Why is Patrick’s Cabaret sunsetting now? It seemed like everything was going well.

While there is a strong belief in our mission within our community, and increased interest in and engagement with our work (including more than 500 artists served in the last year), we simply cannot raise adequate funding from grants, individual donors, and other sources to continue operating beyond 2018. Rather than compromise the quality of our programming or reduce staff and operations in 2018, we believe it will best honor the three decade-long legacy of Patrick’s Cabaret to celebrate our finale with a full season of robust work. 

Is there no way to save the organization?

Even with a significant infusion of funds, we would require ongoing support year after year to make continued operations a practical option. We could dramatically decrease the size and scope of the organization, but we would lose significant support from current funders. Trying to operate from an even more fragile infrastructure would cause our programming to suffer, and provide diminished impacts for artists. The board and staff of Patrick’s Cabaret believe that sunsetting the organization now is the most responsible thing to do. 

Are there other ways the organization’s programs and services to artists might continue?

In today’s social and political climate, the importance of supporting the voices of artists on the edge of culture has never been more critical. Fortunately, there are other organizations in our community, particularly those run by and for artists on the edge of culture, poised to meet the needs of the artists we currently serve. As part of our sunsetting process, we are exploring the possibility of transitioning some of our programs to other organizations. Any leaders interested in starting a conversation should contact Scott Artley at scott@patrickscabaret.org. We are confident that even though the organization is sunsetting, the many artists who have touched Patrick’s Cabaret will carry the torch on to the next leg of the journey.

Why are you using the word “sunset” rather than “closure” or another term?

Calling this moment in the organization’s lifecycle a “sunset” was a conscious choice to capture the sense of both finality and beauty that we want to inspire in this moment.

Why have you moved twice in the last two years, and how have your space challenges contributed to the situation?

Although we had a lease through 2019, in March 2016 the building owner of our longtime home at Lake Street & Minnehaha Avenue terminated our lease and required us to move out by the end of May 2016. We moved our new office to Intermedia Arts in June 2016, and reorganized our operations to a “mobile model” where we rented or partnered with existing venues to produce events. In November 2017, we were again required to find a new home base when Intermedia Arts announced its financial situation required closing its building. We now have a small office at Lake Street & Lyndale.

Especially for a cultural organization, moving is a significant change typically requiring careful planning on a long timeline. After 16 years in a single venue, patrons associated our identity with our building so becoming independent of that building’s identity proved to be a challenge. Crucially, our ability to rent space to other artists and organizations was a critical source of stable, flexible revenue we have not been able to replace through other means.

What do your grant funders think about sunsetting the organization?

Funders have been entirely supportive, sharing our grief and recognizing the wisdom of our decision. They have committed to maintaining their continued financial support during the final phase of the organization. We think this is a beautiful expression of philanthropy. We will spend down all grant dollars in accordance with their appropriate restricted uses when applicable, and will meet all reporting and other requirements specified by the grantor.

What were the mission, vision, and programming shifts you mentioned? Why did you shift focus?

In the last two years, the board and staff have had ongoing conversations about who is currently on the “edge of culture”—artists whose identities and work are often relegated to the margins. With careful consideration, we evolved to more explicitly and effectively focus our energies on serving artists of color, with disabilities, and with queer and trans identities.

Following the loss of our venue, and the resulting reduction in our annual budget, we had no choice but to reduce expenses by decreasing the number of performances we produced. In place of these performances, we created new, mission-aligned programming that nearly doubled the numbers of artists we served, on a budget roughly two-thirds its previous size. These programs included Artist Education workshops, Teaching Artist Residencies, and expanded Artist Services.

What is happening to the artists served by the Cabaret? How will the Cabaret help them through the transition?

We are proud to have offered artists frequent, paid opportunities to make and share their art, and this season is no different. Details about events this spring are available on our Spring Season announcement. The Spring Season will be produced in its entirety, with four Mainstage Cabarets and five Artist Education workshops. We will also be concluding our Teaching Artist Residency with the Aliveness project in April as planned, and completing the entirety of a three-month Teaching Artist Residency with Southside Family Charter School this spring, for which we will be hiring teaching staff. We will work to transfer the artists we fiscally sponsor to other organizations providing this service. 

While it is disheartening to no longer have the capacity to serve these artists after our sunset season, we are encouraged and inspired by the energy in our community to lift up these artists. We’re lucky to live and work in a community that is increasingly supportive of artists of color, artists with disabilities, and artists with queer and trans identities. 

We will be hosting Community Roundtables in the next few months to help artists identify ways they can engage with organizations already doing similar work, and “pass the torch” to organizations who can carry forward the legacy of Patrick’s Cabaret. The first such gathering will be on Monday, Feb. 26. Stay tuned to our emails, website, and social media for further details about the time and location.

What do the staff think, and how are they a part of the process? 

After many months of conversations and deliberations, this decision to sunset the organization was made through the consensus of staff and board. Staff are experienced administrators who understand the importance of closing an organization with integrity and positivity, and crossing the finish line having met all commitments and without debt. To honor the work of the staff during this emotional time, the board is planning to offer severance packages.

Weren’t you hiring new positions just before the announcement?

In January we hired a new part-time Program Assistant and contracted with five Ambassadors. The positions we hired are necessary for us to complete this season’s work, and are covered by grant funding we have already secured. The Ambassador positions are seasonal, and were always intended to last only until June. The Program Assistant position was intended to be a long-term position, but the person we have hired was alerted to the organization’s plans and still intends to remain on staff during this time. The contributions of our entire team will be critical, interlocking components of producing our final season with the most impact.

How does this impact what you are asking of the Ambassadors you have just hired? 

The Ambassador program was always intended to be implemented in the Spring Season, and all of the activities we plan for them will remain unchanged. They will be attending and promoting Patrick’s Cabaret events to build engagement with the hundreds of artists we will serve this season, and they will be provided resources to experience other like-minded events in the community and reflect on the connections they make. Their job is about connecting communities around artists and art-making; that work will last far beyond the life of our organization.

Tell me more about these Community Roundtables you will be hosting during the sunset season.

Community Roundtables have the basic premise of hosting critical and productive conversations about how we as a community will move forward the legacy of Patrick’s Cabaret following the organization’s conclusion. What do we as a community need to do to “pass the torch” to the next generation of artists and organizers doing the challenging, raw, and important work we have supported for 30 years? What do we need for artists on the edge of culture to thrive? How do we support other organizations and artists who are already doing similar work? How do we ensure these needs are met? The first Community Roundtable will take place on Feb. 26. Stay tuned to our emails, website, and social media for further details about the time and location.

How will you honor and celebrate the legacy of Patrick’s Cabaret?

In June we will be celebrating the successes of the organization and all of the artists and communities we’ve had the privilege of working with in the last 32 years with a final celebration we’re calling a “FUNeral” because it’ll be so much FUN. We will also be spending the spring gathering and documenting the history of Patrick’s Cabaret through a variety of means, and will work with the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota to add to Patrick’s Cabaret’s existing archive there.

How can I honor the legacy?

The benefit of having a whole season ahead of us is that we have so many opportunities to celebrate the people and stories that have made up Patrick’s Cabaret. The best way to celebrate and honor the legacy is to come to this season’s events and meet the artists and audiences who are touched by the work. Share your story with the next generation, or listen to the generation that made your work possible. It’s up to every one of us to keep the legacy of Patrick’s Cabaret living and breathing in the world.

Start sharing your memories on social media by tagging @patrickscabaret or using the hashtag #patrickscabaret. Be sure to make your posts public! An intern will be harvesting, sharing, and archiving these memories. We are also seeking committee members to join us in planning our FUNeral, which will be an excellent opportunity to engage with the history and legacy of Patrick’s Cabaret.

What can I do to support you in the final phase of the organization?

We want to pack the house at all of our final performances. Show love for the artists who are holding space during our sunset season by coming to see the critical, cutting edge work they will be sharing. Learn more about our Spring Season.

Come to the first Community Roundtable on Monday, Feb. 26 where we will discuss how to “pass the torch” to the next generation of artists and organizers.

Volunteer for opportunities at events like ushering, with special projects like a mailing, or as part of our final celebration event planning committee. Learn more about volunteering.

Finally, while we have all of the grant funds we need to do our programming, we still need to raise the amount of funds we had planned to raise from individual donors to support the organization’s final season and cross the finish line having met all commitments. Please consider donating to support our sunset season of activities (click to donate, every bit counts!). Please also consider fundraising on our behalf by hosting an event or making a special appeal to your network (connect with scott@patrickscabaret.org if you are interested). Our goal is $11,000, and if our fundraising exceeds our needs, we will re-grant the balance to other mission-aligned organizations.

I have more questions, whom do I contact?

Staff and Board will be available to answer questions and take comments at info@patrickscabaret.org. Thanks in advance for your patience awaiting a response during this busy period.