Intiman's announcement today about their severe budget crisis—and declaration that if they don't raise $1 million by the end of September, the 39-year-old theater will have to close—puts the majority of the blame on one man's shoulders: Brian Colburn, the managing director who abruptly resigned last year for "personal reasons."
At the time of his resignation, reporters didn't delve to deeply into those "personal reasons"—and board members refused to discuss them.
But now the personal is getting civic, as Colburn's departure apparently ushered in an era when the whole institution (and all the jobs it supports, both administrative and artistic) is in danger of toppling.
So what the hell happened? I asked Intiman board president Kim Anderson earlier this afternoon:
Is Colburn really solely responsible for bringing Intiman to a point where it's $1 million away from closing?
It's fair to say that if the issues that are discussed in the fact sheet had been called to the attention of the board, we could have stepped in and it wouldn't have been so difficult.
I don't know what Brian's motives were for not coming to the board and not being truthful about the things that happened. We had significant cost overruns in a few of our shows and those expenses were not reflected in the statements that the finance committee and the board were given—so we couldn't address them.
There were a couple of items that appeared to be income items appeared to be inflated or were never negotiated—even though the board and finance committees were told that they were finalized.
Colburn came into the job from the Pasadena Playhouse and, by all accounts, seemed like a competent, experienced manager. What happened to him between when he joined Intiman and when he left?
I obviously can't speak to anything that happeneed to Brian personally.
Was there an event when the board realized that something was profoundly wrong, either with Colburn or with the finances? And which realization came first?
I cannot go into any detail about that—Brian's resignation came very quickly. We went in immediately when he left and we could tell something was wrong. It turned out that normal bookeeping had not been done for several months. If we haven't always been able to identify the extent of the problem, it's because it has taken us this long to reconcile our books.
If I had to identify a precipitating event—there was a finance committee meeting that was scheduled, cancelled, rescheduled and questions began to arise. Then Brian was very quickly gone.
Is there any indication that Colburn was up to anything criminal? Will the theater pursue any punitive action against him?
At this point, there is nothing in our review of our books that there were any monetary improprieties that would have benefited Brian personally. I can't tell you if there are any other legal claims right now. We want to take the records we've now reconstructed and have them audited, and they audit will give us further information.
We expect that audit to be finished in June and then we'll know more. But for right now, there's nothing pointing in a direction that Brian was doing anything illegal.
Do you know where Colburn is now?
I do not. I have not spoken to him since last October.