The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, already struggling to rebuild, can’t overcome the new burden of the coronavirus crisis and has suspended all operations immediately.
Rumors of this were circulating this weekend and confirmed today in an e-mail from executive artistic director Will Trice to Rep contributors.
As you are aware, the COVID-19 public health crisis is an unprecedented event that has brought significant negative impacts on our community; and professional, non-profit theatres like The Rep are being hit especially hard. On the one hand, we’re one of the many local, small businesses who’ve been forced to shut their doors. Without public gatherings, we can’t create, nor sell tickets to, our shows. However, we’re also a non-profit organization that is even more dependent on donations from corporations and individual supporters, who are themselves affected by the stalled economy and volatility in the stock market.This double whammy is causing theatres across the country to lay off employees or suspend operations. Thanks to supporters like you, 2019 brought The Rep back with great enthusiasm and steady support. Yet, while some theatres have endowments or other back-stops to rely on during emergencies such as this, The Rep is only just beginning to get back on its feet. We are still in an incredibly fragile stage of recovery from our previous shutdown and simply do not have the resources to weather this storm and fully rebound in the near-term.Therefore, our Board of Directors has come to the difficult decision to indefinitely suspend all programming activities, including productions, events, and educational offerings, effective immediately.In addition to the previously announced forced cancellations of all of our Spring programming, this suspension means the cancellation of our upcoming production of Bye Bye Birdie, all summer education programs, as well as the 2020-21 season that would have begun in September. Our incredible, dedicated Board will use this time to strategically plan for reopening The Rep, as conditions permit, under a sustainable business model. To that end, we are actively assessing what this suspension of our normal operations means for our staff and how to best support them during this transitional time. We also hope to resume educational programming as soon as possible, although any decisions will follow the directives of state and local officials related to public gatherings.If you have purchased tickets for any canceled events or programs, you will have the option of a full refund, or to transfer the associated cost to a tax-deductible donation. Our Box Office staff will be reaching out over the next week to process all orders. At this time, the majority of our staff are working from remote locations, and we thank you for your patience as we work to fulfill your requests. If you need immediate assistance, please email us at email@example.com.To all of you who have made donations to The Rep these last few weeks, thank you. Your support has made it possible for our staff members to keep their jobs as long as they have. Moving forward, The Rep’s ability to sustain its ongoing limited operation and eventual return to regular programming will depend on continued community support during these uncertain times. All gifts will be used to sustain any ongoing staff members and meet ongoing fixed expenses, like utilities.While we are discouraged by these short-term consequences, we are not giving up on our mission. Central Arkansas deserves to have professional theatre. We plan to use this forced pause as an opportunity to regroup and build a sustainable plan for the future; one that will provide our community with those exciting, moving, and entertaining group experiences that we all miss right now. While we may not be able to share the experience of live theatre with you currently, your support will ensure that the curtain will rise once more. We can’t wait to see you when it does.