Culture News

Actors Theatre Faces Closure if it Can't Raise Funds by November

Oh, these troubled times--especially for the arts community, always

the first to be cut loose in any kind of economic crunch. The latest arts

organization to fall apart is Actors Theatre, one of a handful of professional

theater companies here. The Herberger Theater Center resident, which

launched its 26th season last month, announced today that the company must

raise a whopping $70,000 by November 30, or it'll be shutting down.

If the second-largest theater company in the state is that much in the

hole, what does it mean for smaller, non-Equity troupes?

"The trickle down effect won't be good," Actors Theatre's artistic

director Matthew Wiener said yesterday. "If we close up shop, it will affect

every other theater company in town."

The seventy grand that Wiener and company need will allow the

theater to complete its run of Next Fall, the season's second production

which opens tonight. An additional $170,000 must be raised by December

31 to allow the company to continue its current season, and still another

$260,000 will be needed to keep the company afloat beyond this year. 

"We're facing a crisis unlike any other in our history and our

challenge is urgent," Wiener says. "I know it's not a great time for us to be

asking the public to help us keep our doors open, but we're out of options."

The company began its season with $100,000 less in contributed

revenue than this time last year, mostly because both private and corporate

contributions--as well as grant moneys -- have essentially dried up.

Wiener, who hasn't collected a paycheck in three months, is working

with his board and employees to restructure Actors Theatre's business


Meantime, the pressure's on to scrape together a huge pile of dough

in record time.

Here's hoping this company--one of the most versatile and interesting troupes in town -- makes its deadlines.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela