The rumors have now been substantiated, courtesy of an email from Kim Anderson, the president of Intiman's board (who is currently traveling in Asia).
A brief history:
* On Nov 1, Intiman announced that its managing director, Brian Colburn, was leaving the theater for "personal reasons," effective immediately. Arts journalists (including myself) didn't push too hard for details because "personal reasons" is usually something bad and nobody wanted to be a jerk.
* On Nov 3, an unsourced email popped up on the local theater blog Just Wrought, claiming that Intiman is in deep trouble: "they are a million in debt, haven't paid taxes, health care, union dues, or L&I and have spent their endowment and bonds."
* On Nov 4, board president Kim Anderson responded to my questions about the rumor with a vague but discomforting letter:
While I am not in a position to address specific questions I can share that early indications have reassured the board of trustees that we are in a good position to continue operations and, more importantly, can plan for the future, including the recently announced 2011 season.
... over the coming weeks, I anticipate that we will have more clarity regarding day-to-day operations and will be in a position to answer more questions.
"We are in a good position to continue operations" is not a phrase anybody wants to hear (or say), since it also means there is a possibility we will not be able to continue operations. And "more clarity regarding day-to-day operations" also means we are somewhat confused about day-to-day operations—this confusion suggests a leadership breakdown on the business/infrastructural side.
The side that is usually the responsibility of the (recently and rapidly departed) managing director.
* On Nov 5, board president Kim Anderson responded to further questions with another email and more troubling details: "Over the course of the past week, it has become increasingly apparent that during the past 90 days operational oversight has fallen short of Intiman’s high standards... it will take some time to sort through the impact of these management missteps." Anderson detailed late bills and late payments, including money due to vendors, creditors, and unions. No mention was made of late taxes.
Anderson wrote that the theater would conduct a "full financial audit."
She added that Intiman's endowment is close to a million dollars and that since artistic director Kate Whoriskey took over—presenting productions of Paradise Lost, The Thin Place, Ruined, and A Doctor in Spite of Himself—the theater has seen near-record ticket sales.
The leadership of IATSE Local 15, the stagehands' union, have not returned requests for comment about whatever financial trouble they've had with Intiman.
More details as they come.
And here's hoping Intiman can transform "we are in a good position to continue operations" into "all's well."