Equity Donates Funds to Help Seattle's Ailing A Contemporary Theatre

News   Equity Donates Funds to Help Seattle's Ailing A Contemporary Theatre Actors' Equity Assocation, the union for actors and stage managers, has made an emergency donation to Seattle's A Contemporary Theatre, announced Equity executive director Alan Eisenberg and Equity western regional director John Holly.

"We were very distressed to hear about ACT Seattle's mounting financial crisis and want to encourage the theatre-going public, as well as government, civic and corporate leaders to reach out and assist the theatre at this difficult time," stated Eisenberg and Holly in a release. They added "It would be disastrous for the entire theatre community and the City of Seattle to lose ACT."

Equity's donation adds to the $40,000 gift ACT's board of directors donated Feb. 20 to help alleviate the venue's financial woes. The amount offered up by AEA was not disclosed.

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The 38-year-old downtown Seattle theater complex — which houses four working performance spaces — had announced Feb. 14 that the non-profit company had merely $3,000 remaining assets and estimated a $1.7 million debt outstanding, said Katherine Janeway and Sheena Aebig, co-chairs of ACT's board. To continue running, it would need to come up with $1.5 million by Feb. 21.

The board's $40,000 gift and an additional $8,000 that has been raised by the groundswell of community support (ranging in individual donations from $5 to $1000) for the theatre will allow the company to pay its skeleton crew and keep the ailing venue afloat for at least a month. But, there is still a need for large financial support from major backers. Board member Alan Rappoport was reported as saying potential significant donors requested "a solid reorganization plan for ACT," before making a commitment of their own. "The community's response to save the theater is so strong that we're committing ourselves to keeping the doors open for at least another month."

Factors that contributed to the company's financial troubles included a move from its home in 1996 from lower Queen Anne to its new complex in the Eagles building, at Seventh Avenue and Union Street. In January, the theatre announced its mainstage season would run on a September-May schedule. As stated in a release, "Over the past two years, ACT's subscription and donation revenues, have grown, but not enough to keep pace with mounting expenses driven up by the increased price tag of quality productions."

The company has recently produced works like Syringa Tree which transferred to a critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway run and the world premiere of David Ives' Polish Joke which will play at Manhattan Theatre Club, starting Feb. 25.

Robert Egan, former Los Angeles' Mark Taper Forum Producing Director and Director of New Play Development, became ACT's artistic director in October of 2002. He was released from contract in January. Egan replaced Gordon Edelstein, who has since returned to his roots at Connecticut's Long Wharf Theatre.

For more information on the company, visit www.acttheatre.org.