Just one month after announcing it needed $50,000 to continue operations, Scottsdale-based Don Bluth Front Row Theatre has announced that it will close effective September 17 in order to focus on fundraising. The goal is to raise $50,000 in time to reopen and present a holiday production of It’s a Wonderful Life.
As of this writing, Don Bluth Theatre Company has raised $15,000 of its goal amount, which it needs to continue operations. The closure will mean cancelling two fall shows: Inherit the Wind, which was scheduled to run September 22 to October 15, and She Loves Me, which was scheduled for October 20 to November 26.
These closures will save the company close to $20,000 in production costs, per its announcement issued by company founder Don Bluth and his fellow producers, Curtis Watson and Roger McKay. And it will leave the trio with more time for seeking individual and corporate donations.
This isn’t the sole theater to struggle in recent years with meeting operating costs. Arizona Jewish Theatre Company ceased operations in 2012, and Actors Theatre followed suit in 2014. Both cited funding challenges as a significant factor.
Arizona Theatre Company, a professional theater company that performs in Tucson and Phoenix, announced in late June of this year that it needed to raise $2 million to presents its 2016-17 season and continue operations – something it accomplished as of July 18.
Arizona Theatre Company, one of just a few professional theater companies in Arizona, is the state’s only member of the national League of Resident Theatres. And it’s been around for nearly five decades.
But Don Bluth Front Row Theatre has had far less time to develop a strong financial footing.
Don Bluth Front Row Theatre was founded in the mid-90s, when film animator Bluth offered his home as a venue for local youth to perform. Since then, it has added productions for general audiences, and moved the company to a theater space outside Bluth’s home.
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Patrons holding tickets for the canceled shows are being asked to consider ticket costs as donations to support the cause.
Season ticket holders can request refunds for these shows, consider those funds donations to the theater, or request a swap for tickets to other shows – although it’s unclear at this point whether the company will actually raise the funds it needs to stay open and present a 2017 season.
Before closing on September 17 to focus on fundraising, Don Bluth Front Row Theatre plans to finish its current production of Noël Coward’s Private Lives, which continues through August 6, and present the musical Singin’ in the Rain from August 11 to 17.
The announcement notes that those wishing to make donations can do so by phone or online, or attend a Guys & Dolls-themed gala taking place on Monday, August 22.