L.A.’s Center Theater Group Lays Off Staff and Halts Work on One Stage

Faced with what has been described as “a crisis unlike any other in its 56-year history,” Los Angeles theater’s flagship Center Theater Group said Thursday it had lost revenue and announced a series of drastic changes to deal with it. announced a reduction. It announced it would reduce attendance and suspend production on one of its three stages, the Mark Taper Forum.

The theater announced that it would lay off 10% of its 200 employees.

In a note to patrons, the theater said, “We continue to feel the aftermath of the pandemic and struggle to balance rising production costs with significantly reduced ticket revenue and donations below 2019 levels. I am doing,” he said. Theater officials said the group posted an $8 million shortfall in 2022-23 and a $7 million shortfall in the previous year, much of which was funded by the now-finished federal pandemic aid. It says.

of 736 seat taperthe semi-circular amphitheater that is the centerpiece of the innovative production – where “Slave Play” recently sold out to almost a full house – will hold performances from July this year until at least the 2023-2024 season. Abort.

And the theater will postpone the world premiere of Larissa Fasthorse’s “Fake It until You Make It,” which was scheduled to open at the theater in August this year. As a result, Taper’s final production of the season will be the world premiere of the Transparent Musical, based on the TV show Transparent, which tells the story of a Los Angeles patriarch coming out as transgender. ”.

From local theaters to symphonies to opera houses, the Los Angeles organization will be the latest arts group in the country to tackle the coronavirus pandemic’s drop in attendance.

The center has a long track record of driving new and innovative initiatives, but has struggled to redefine its mission and regain its financial footing since reopening after the pandemic. The group consists of his three theaters, the Taper, Ahmanson and Kirk Douglas Theatres. Ahmanson and the Taper is part of the Music Center complex in downtown Los Angeles. Kirk Douglas is in Culver City.

Taper’s seasonal subscription costs are down 35% from before the pandemic shutdown began. Subscribers at the group’s main theater, the Ahmanson Theater, dropped 42 percent. Longtime artistic director Michael Ritchie resigned in December 2022, six months before his contract expired. He replaced Snehal Desai He is the Producer and Artistic Director of the East-West Players, taking on a new role this summer. He will lead a smaller organization.

“Before he walked into our front door, we didn’t expect something this dramatic to happen so quickly,” said Brett Webster, spokesman for the center. “He went in knowing it was a possibility.”

Taper is particularly admired here for its relatively intimate atmosphere and willingness to work on new work, which is sometimes admired. sometimes not.

“Suspending the season program at Taper is a difficult but necessary decision that will affect artists and audiences alike.” It’s especially painful,” the theater said.

The Center Theater Group has a long and distinguished history here, having staged landmark productions such as Anna Deaver-Smith’s plays Angel in America and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992.

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