Empty Space Theatre, a Seattle Champion of New Works and Emerging Writers, Shutters

News   Empty Space Theatre, a Seattle Champion of New Works and Emerging Writers, Shutters Seattle's The Empty Space Theatre has shut its doors. The board of directors announced Oct. 27 the company would "cease operations effective immediately."

Financial instability is all too familiar a subject for the Seattle theatre community, which witnessed the bankruptcy of the Seattle Fringe Festival in 2005. Seattle's ACT Theatre also faced closing in 2003.

"We're very disappointed to be taking this step," said board chair Erik Blachford. "We appreciate the support we have had from the community and we regret that the board is unable to raise the funds necessary to continue."

The more than 30-year-old non-profit professional theatre had previously shut down production in October 2004 then re-opened having raised enough money to pay off its debt and provide subscribers with a two-play season.

The company is known for its dedication to new works and young professionals not broached by its competing venues. Founded in 1970, the company currently resides in the Fremont district of Seattle.

"Thank you to all the artists, donors, volunteers, and, of course, audience members who have supported The Empty Space with such tenacity and generosity," read a notice on the company's website. "Unfortunately, The Empty Space does not have the financing needed to manage cash flow over the coming months. In January 2006 we completed a successful move to the new Jeanne Marie and Rhoady Lee Center for the Performing Arts at Seattle University. We produced two shows in our new home; both Bust and Louis Slotin Sonata were critical and popular successes. However, while we anticipated reaching breakeven in 2007, efforts by the board to secure donations or other forms of financing to bridge the interim period have not been successful, and the board is deeply saddened to take this necessary step."

Founded in 1971, The Empty Space boasted the tag "Uncommon Theatre" on its logo.

Allison Narver last served as its artistic director with Melanie Matthews as managing director. "We're incredibly proud to have introduced new playwrights to Seattle, to have nurtured local artists and to have produced shows of lasting impact," said Narver. "While I am deeply saddened by the board's decision we are profoundly grateful to the many subscribers, artists, volunteers, staff members, interns, and audience members who have supported us with such loyalty and passion for so many years."

Empty Space is on the web at www.emptyspace.org.