Culture News

Arizona Theatre Company Still Needs $1 Million to Stay Afloat

Two donors responded with significant gifts after Arizona Theatre Company's recent announcement that it would need to raise $2 million by Friday, July 1, to stay afloat. The deadline for meeting its $2 million goal has been pushed back to Friday, July 15.

Mike Kasser, president of the Tucson-based international real-estate investment firm Holualoa Companies and member of the Arizona Theatre Company board of directors, has agreed to give $1 million through a combination of fundraising and donation “if an equal amount can be raised through the outreach efforts now underway.” And an anonymous donor has given $100,000 to help keep the company running through at least July 15.

If Arizona Theatre Company, which has been a staple of the Arizona theater scene for nearly five decades, doesn’t reach its goal, the board will be faced with deciding either to put the company on hiatus while it works to reorganize or to simply dissolve the organization.

The latter would be a significant loss for the Arizona performing arts scene. Arizona Theatre Company is the state’s only member of the prestigious League of Resident Theatres, and one of just a few professional theater companies in Arizona. 

It's the latest development in a fundraising plea first made public on Monday, June 27.

Arizona Theatre Company sent an urgent announcement to supporters that day, announcing plans to cancel the 50th anniversary season, set to open this fall with the play King Charles III, unless the company raised $2 million by the end of the week. And it noted another potential result – shuttering the theater for good.

David Ira Goldstein, artistic director since 1992, says this is his last year with the company, even if it survives. He'd planned to retire three years ago, but stayed on to help with financial struggles and management changes.

The company announced the two major gifts and the new deadline on Thursday, June 30, but suggested that Phoenix patrons should be doing more to support the cause.

In that announcement, Kasser says, “I am hopeful that this guarantee based on the responses I’ve seen in Tucson will encourage others in our community, and particularly our friends in Phoenix where ATC is also a major artistic and cultural influence, to join us in ensuring that this vital arts institution continues operating.”

If Arizona Theatre Company fails to reach its goal, people who’ve purchased season subscriptions or tickets for the 2016/17 season will be stuck with tickets for shows that won’t take place. In its June 27 announcement to supporters, Arizona Theatre Company explained that it would be “unable to refund tickets already purchased.” In that case, it will work to provide “access to local venues to provide ATC patrons with alternative arts experiences.”

If the $2 million goal is met by July 15, Arizona Theatre Company will move forward with a robust season that includes not only King Charles III, winner of the 2015 Olivier Award for best play (the British equivalent of a Tony Award), but also five other productions.

The 2016-17 lineup also includes An Act of God, a play recently performed on Broadway; the classic musical Fiddler on the Roof; The River Bride, a play that earned Arizona Theatre Company’s 2013 National Latino Playwriting Award; Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash; and Holmes and Watson, a world premiere mystery.

Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version to clarify that Mike Kasser has promised to raise $1 million, not necessarily make the entire donation himself.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble