North Shore officials announced June 16 that the theatre has failed to raise the $2 million needed to launch a 2009 season. Although more than $500,000 in pledges have been made, time has run out to raise the balance.
Theatre board chairman David Fellows said in a statement, "In the last two months we have been able to make progress toward our fundraising goal, but sadly, this is not enough to fund a 2009 season and keep the theater open . . . Without a season this year, we are unable to address the substantial debts of our creditors and restore the theater's economic health."
Fellows also told Salem News that the theatre is seeking buyers but may declare bankruptcy. "It is heartbreaking," he said, "but realistically, our debts are overwhelming."
The theatre's debts include large mortgages on its property and buildings and debts to vendors, the State of Massachusetts, and subscribers who paid in advance for the 2009 season. Theatre officials "are in discussions with its senior creditor and are reviewing the options available for liquidating and maximizing the value of the theater's assets for its stakeholders, as well as identifying potential buyers of the property who might consider a lease back of the theater," according to the statement.
Fellows told Salem News that the theatre will have to pay off banks and that it is "very unlikely" an estimated 4,4000 subscribers will be reimbursed. Fellows also stated, "We are grateful to our loyal supporters and urge all who care about musical theater and arts education on the North Shore to support any effort that would preserve this cultural resource for future generations."
North Shore Music Theatre, which began operating in 1955, is the largest non-profit producing theatre in New England.
For more information visit www.NSMT.org.