Theatre owners and artistic directors Robert Ennis Turoff and Roberta MacDonald Turoff sold the Golden Apple's downtown home for $1.7 million in February due to a decline in audience attendance and mounting debt, according to the Herald-Tribune. The Turoffs cited the economic downturn, parking shortages and numerous construction projects in downtown Sarasota for deterring theatre audiences recently.
The sale of the Golden Apple's home to Toronto-based real-estate developers provided an initial cash infusion to pay off the theatre's existing debts, but the Turoffs are still left with a $250,000 mortgage on the building, which they had to take out in order to complete the sale. There are also remaining debts totaling $70,000.
The Turoffs severed their decades-long ties with Actors' Equity Association last year in order to reduce overhead production costs. Its current production is Honky Tonk Angel.
The Golden Apple's first production in 1971, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, celebrated its opening night as a benefit for the Asolo Theatre, which was in dire financial straits at the time. Golden Apple is hoping to revive the musical in July to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
The Turoffs said they have also considered transitioning into a non-profit organization, but obtaining that status can take up to eight months and the theatre is in desperate need of liquidity now. The Golden Apple has now launched a campaign to raise funds and the Turoffs are reaching out to members of the public and veterans of the theatre to help keep its doors open.
To donate and learn more visit TheGoldenApple.