WATERTOWN, MASS.: After 40 seasons and more than 300 productions, New Repertory Theatre’s board of directors has determined that it is not possible to sustain the organization going forward. According to a release, audiences and critics responded enthusiastically to New Rep’s relaunch and its 2023 season, but fundraising with major donors has fallen short of the theatre’s goals. The board has therefore initiated the process of formally dissolving the organization, and expects to have no assets at the conclusion of this process.
The release states, “New Rep takes great satisfaction in its history, and in particular the 2023 season, however, it is subject to the same converging realities that have impacted so many theatre companies throughout the country: post-pandemic economics, changes in the philanthropic landscape, challenges with the business model of regional theatres, and other factors beyond its control, along with the ending of emergency federal support for the performing arts.”
After a nine-month suspension of productions during the pandemic, New Rep recommitted itself to a Renewal Vision of inclusion and diversity and a collaborative process centered on new work, new voices, and creative programming. Since reopening, productions have included new works in the theatre’s Pipeline Project, musical events, and collaborative community performances and events with local organizations, including the Watertown library and public schools.
Said board chair Chris Jones in a statement, “We are so proud of the artistic excellence of our 2023 productions, the casts, design teams and staff, the rave reviews and strong ticket sales, and the fact that the theatre is going out on the highest possible note.” Our artistic team has embodied the essence of New Rep’s Renewal Vision with excellence, professionalism, quality and spirit.” For her part, board vice chair Danielle Galligan expressed gratitude to the Greater Boston community that embraced New Rep’s vision and supported New Rep in attendance and financially over the years. “We are saddened by this outcome, yet grateful for the long run of this wonderful theatre,” Galligan said in a statement.
Founded in 1984 by Larry Lane, New Repertory Theatre launched its first season in 1985. Previous artistic leaders have included Rick Lombardo, Kate Warner, and Jim Petosa. In 2019, Michael Bobbitt was named artistic director, but left in 2021 to head Mass Cultural Council. In April 2021, New Rep named M. Bevin O’Gara its interim executive artistic director. The theatre does not currently have an artistic director, but is instead artistically led by a team of resident artists including Lois Roach, Maria Hendricks, and Michael Hisamoto, and Angelica Potter, whose title is director of organizational transition.
In a statement, the resident artists, said, “It is that fitting we close New Rep’s long and storied history with plays that encompass the battles we have fought throughout history and the hopes we have for a more beautiful future. And we reflect with pride on all the community work and cultural expansion we have impacted in Watertown and beyond that will resound in years to come. We celebrate all the artists involved in the history of New Rep and know that New Rep lives on through the people that have made the company what it is and was.”
A celebration of the theatre’s history will be held on Dec. 11. As of 2021, the theatre’s budget was around $904,000.
“On behalf of the entire Board and organization, I express our deepest gratitude to our patrons and donors, to the artists whose work we have been privileged to share with this community, and to an amazing staff that consistently made it all happen,” Jones added.
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