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Longtime Phoenix Theater Group Facing Risk of Shutdown

Published: Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Updated: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 18:11

Actors Theatre

John Groseclose

The case of the Actors Theatre's production of "Next Fall".

The Actors Theatre of Phoenix, a resident at the Herberger Theater Center and staple in the Valley for 26 years, is experiencing financial difficulties that could shut the group down.

Actors Theatre is funded through several sources, including ticket sales, private donations and corporate contributions – all of which have begun to dwindle. So leaders have organized a massive outreach and fundraising campaign to try to save themselves.

"We are hopeful, but we know it's a long road between now and December 31 and that is our biggest challenge, actually," said Erica Black, managing director of Actors Theatre.

The group has had early success, raising more than $70,000 before their November 30 deadline. But the group says it needs to raise $170,000 by the end of the year; and $260,000 by June 30 to ensure organizational stability.

In the interim, Actors Theatre is turning to pay cuts and other money-saving tactics.

Black, for example, was not paid throughout the month of October.

"The thing is that we have been cutting over the last three years," Black said.

The group slashed all print advertising and marketing.

"It's all been social media and online," Black said.

The Actors Theatre has not been able to fill staff positions, either. After the loss of the development director and director of marketing, the positions were never refilled, Black said.

Through it all, Actors Theatre has continued to put on performances, including one pay-what-you-wish event.

"We want to be accessible to everybody," Black said. "It is our belief that theater isn't just for the rich, theater is an experience everybody should be able to access."

The Theatre has been reaching out to the public through media and personal contacts to raise awareness of their needs.

"If we make the December (goal), I am fairly confident of the June (goal)," Black said. As for "the December one, there is nothing easy about it. There is a lot of money to raise in six weeks."

Ticket sales have been solid, however for the Actors Theatre. "Next Fall," a modern take on faith and romance, played until November 13. "Hunter Gatherers" is scheduled to start December 30 and go through January 15 on Stage West at the Herberger, if funding permits.

Three more performances are scheduled until the end of May. "Dead Man's Cell Phone," "Body Awareness" and "Time Stands Still" are slated for 2012.

Black said the lack of funding for their theater is not a new problem. "I think arts as a whole are not always great at communicating the value that we bring to community," Black said. "I don't know if there is an immediate solution in that this is a nationwide problem."


To learn more about the Actors Theatre of Phoenix go to or call 602.253.6701.

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