The Washington Post reports that the famed Center will help the New Jersey theatre company — which closed its doors in 2000 because of massive debts — to “rebuild and solve its financial crisis.” The Kennedy Center is helping the New Jersey theatre through its Capacity Rebuilding Program, which aids minority organizations. Currently, the Center has 17 participants in the program, which is funded through a grant from SBC Communications. When the Crossroads Theatre Company reopened its doors two years ago, it offered a season of just four plays and was able to reduce its debt by $1 million. Company Executive Director Roberta J. Coleman told the Washington Post, “Our goal was to reopen the doors and get the subscribers back into the theatre, without adding to the debt.” Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser added, “[The Crossroads Theatre Company] consistently did some of the best theatre in America. However, they didn’t have the management wherewithal to sustain themselves in a different economic environment.”
The Crossroads Theatre Company and the Kennedy Center do have a history. The two formed an agreement in 1994 to co-produce four plays, which included Flyin’ West and Nomathemba. A goal of the new alliance is to bring more Crossroads productions to the Kennedy Center.
A 1999 Tony Award recipient for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Crossroads Theatre Company was founded in 1978 by Ricardo Khan and L. Kenneth Richardson and became the “nation’s premiere African-American theatre.” In its somewhat tumultuous history, the company presented world premieres of The Colored Museum, Spunk, The Love Space Demands, Black Eagles and Sheila’s Day. Its first Broadway production was the Tony nominated musical revue It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues.