PHOENIX, ARIZ: After 29 years, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, one of a few professional theatres left in the Phoenix area, is closing, the theatre announced Friday morning. Even after ending a 20-year residency at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix and downsizing its staff, the troupe was hit too hard from the 2008 financial crisis to recover.
“We made a lot of changes, and some things did improve, but it wasn’t enough,” artistic director Matthew Wiener said in an interview with azcentral.com. “When we started putting all the numbers next to each other, it became clearer and clearer that this was a math problem. The cost structure of supporting professional artists is no longer something that Actors Theatre was able to do.”
The final nail in the coffin came on Thursday when the theatre’s board voted to dissolve the company, and will liquidate it within the next 30 to 60 days. There is no single financial cause of the theatre closing, Wiener said, but the most significant factor was a decrease in “institutional” support, i.e. fewer grants from the government, corporations and philanthropic foundations.
“The simple truth is we’re out of money,” said Actors Theatre Board President Renee Gerstman in a statement posted on the theatre’s website. “This was not the result of a single event, but a combination of factors, primarily based on the fact that revenues—both earned and contributed—did not meet expectations and we found ourselves in a cash-flow crisis.”
The theatre was founded in 1985 as Actors Theatre of Phoenix with the goal of presenting professional productions using local talent. The remaining shows in the theatre’s season (Annapurna, Stage Kiss and The Year of Magical Thinking) will be cancelled and tickets sold will not be refunded.
“We are incredibly proud of Actors Theatre’s legacy over nearly 30 years.” Wiener said in the statement. (He’s led the theatre for 19 years.) “We know that many patrons left most of our productions affected by and talking about what they saw on stage. Perhaps we will again see those or similar productions and the high professional quality of what went on both on and behind the stage. In the meantime, and in spite our deep, deep sadness at this time, we do know that there are many great arts and cultural opportunities in the Valley. Perhaps we will be part of them again sometime in the future.”
American Theatre has reached out to the Actors Theatre of Phoenix for further comment.