Thursday, May 7, 2009

Foothill Theatre Company Goes Dark

A Sad Announcement from FTC

On May 17, immediately following the run of "Bad Dates" at the Off Center Stage in Grass Valley, the Foothill Theatre Company (FTC) will be forced to cease operations.

“Back in November,” says FTC Board President Lowell Robertson, “the Board of Directors had to make the call on whether to go forward with a 2009 season. In 2008, we had been able to reduce expenses by over $60,000, and planned some additional savings. We projected ticket sales very conservatively at 22% below 2008, and we decided to do only a three show Demi-Season to limit risk. The proposed budget indicated being able to reduce debt by over $25,000. It is important to note that this was only five weeks after the start of the Wall Street implosion and housing market collapse. We are in a very different world today, nearly six months later.”

With funding sources drying up, subscriptions, donations, and theatre attendance at all-time lows, the company is simply unable to continue. In a heartfelt farewell letter to FTC’s staff and affiliate artists, Artistic Director Carolyn Howarth explains the situation clearly and succinctly:

“We are not making enough income through ticket sales, special events, and donations to cover our expenses,” she says. "We've already gone through some layoffs, (with more o in debt. If we were to stay open through the end of our announced demi-season we would likely accrue an additional $30 - 50K of debt. Add that to the existing $160K, and you can see how dire the situation is. We have explored every means of making money that we know how to do. We simply cannot put our board and creditors at more risk. Nor can we expose our staff, who have experienced longer work weeks and late paychecks all season long, to more risk of not getting paid at all.

I am so very, very sorry. Eighteen months ago I took the helm of what I knew would be an unsteady ship to sail, but I always believed in my heart that we would be able to find a way to continue. It makes me unbearably sad to report that our team simply hasn't been able to find a solution to the economic problems.”

“The next few weeks will be spent in the nuts and bolts of ceasing operations,” says FTC Executive Director Karen Marinovich. “To clarify, the board will not be dissolving the 501c(3) or declaring bankruptcy. The hope is to put everything into hiatus until some future opportunity may enable someone, somehow to start things back up again. Anyone who has purchased single tickets to The Andrews Brothers will be issued a refund.”

Board President Robertson offers these thoughts in closing:

“The loss of a professional theater company in our county will negatively impact our local economy well beyond the obvious effect on restaurants and the ten FTC jobs lost. Foothill drew a substantial number of attendees from Sacramento and other surrounding towns because of its reputation for producing high quality theater. Those people ate, stayed and shopped here, year after year.

For over two thousand years the arts have been kept alive by those with the means to be serious patrons and who make an investment for the cultural betterment of their city or community. In business they are called angel investors. In the theater world we call them angels too. Anyone interested in being an angel can contact me and I’ll tell you what it will take to keep this worthy and valuable resource viable. Call the Foothill office at 265-9320 for my contact information.”

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