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Culture notes: Theatrical Outfit pays off mortgage; Ga. Shakespeare tops $1 million; MODA picks new leader

In a dramatic conclusion and new beginning, Theatrical Outfit pays off mortgage
Theatrical Outfit, the Atlanta troupe that marked its 35th anniversary last year, recently held a note-burning ceremony to celebrate paying off the mortgage on its home since 2004, the Balzer Theatre at Herren’s.

Retiring the $1.2 million mortgage makes Theatrical Outfit one of the few metro Atlanta professional theaters to own its own home. Artistic director Tom Key called it a “testament of perseverance.”

The historic downtown storefront was the home to Herren’s Restaurant from 1934 until 1987. Herren’s was the first white linen restaurant in Atlanta to voluntarily desegregate. The first African-American couple to dine there, Dr. Lee and Delores Shelton, are Theatrical Outfit season subscribers.

The theater company renovated it with energy efficiency in mind, and it became the first LEED-certified theater in the U.S.

“This brings a nearly 10-year journey to an end and begins a new journey with enormous promise,” Key said.

Freed of that particular financial pressure, the company expects to better focus on its mission of telling “stories that stir the soul.” HOWARD POUSNER

Georgia Shakespeare exceeds $1 million goal
Georgia Shakespeare met its goal of raising $950,000 by the end of January in its Viva Georgia Shakespeare Campaign that launched last summer. In fact, fueled by a final-week surge in giving by nearly 100 individual donors and substantial gifts by the Turner Voices program of Turner Broadcasting and actress Jennifer Garner (a former intern for the troupe), it exceeded the goal by raising $970,575.

The goal-meeting triggered a $50,000 Harland Charitable Foundation challenge grant, raising the campaign’s total to $1,020,575.

“We still have much progress to make, but hitting our goal was a huge step forward in restoring ourselves to a strong, vibrant company that is sustainable over the long haul,” co-founder and producing artistic director Richard Garner said in a statement.

Late last year, the company announced that it would present a limited number of productions in 2013 while it reworks its operating model. Specifics of that new approach are expected to be announced in late March. HOWARD POUSNER

New director at MODA
The Museum of Design Atlanta has announced that Laura Flusche, formerly the Midtown museum’s associate director, has succeeded Brenda Galina as executive director. Galina, who resigned as 2012 ended, led MODA for five years. Under her watch, the institution moved in 2011 from a hard-to-access Peachtree Center location to a slick, high-profile space across Peachtree Street from the High Museum of Art. HOWARD POUSNER

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