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Disheartening development for Heart of the Beast

The bad news keeps coming for arts organizations — even mainstays like 35-year-old In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre.

The Minneapolis-based theater is coming up short $200,000 on a $1 million 2009 budget after corporate funders, like Travelers, and other donors cut back or redirected their giving, says Alina Campana, marketing and communications manager.

Heart of the Beast will operate with a skeleton crew between Dec. 29 and Feb. 11 during temporary layoffs and/or wage cuts for eight full-time employees and a handful of part-time workers. The theater will be open for some scheduled programs, which are listed here

“It’s proactive and it’s reactive to make sure we’re here through this recession and beyond,” Campana said today.

While Heart of the Beast has gone through “rough spots” in previous recessions, “the general economy hasn’t looked like this,” she said, pointing to the state’s deficit and other widespread shortfalls. “What’s interesting [about this downturn] is that it has been so immediate. We heard the news about the souring economy — then bam.”

Though Heart of the Beast is known primarily for its annual May Day Parade, it also has received rave reviews for the sold-out “La Natividad.”

Want to help? A $50,000 annual fundraising drive is under way, and rush tickets are usually fairly easy to obtain for “La Natividad” (if you are in line by the time the box office opens at 5:30 p.m.).

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