By Carey Purcell
28 May 2014
The suspension cancels all remaining performances of PNT's gender-bending production of Shakespeare's Richard III. The production was scheduled to run through June 1.
PNT Board president Ron Maurer, who would not confirm the debt load, told Michigan Live, "We recently spent a number of weeks – Board members working with staff members – to get a clear picture of this year's and next year's financial situation. We shared what we found with the Board on Wednesday night, and the picture was not pretty. It was clear that we were losing money each and every week. … We decided we needed to stop incurring additional obligations, take some time to catch our breath, and decide what our next step is going to be."
"Part of why I'm reluctant to talk about numbers is that it hurts our options, going forward," Maurer added. "What we really want is to give the community and Board members some time to put all our heads together and really think about what is the right next step. But when you're faced with the picture we were faced with, it's hard to think about blue skies."
The Board was not dissolved and will convene in June.
"The debt situation existed before I was brought in, so we were all aware of the problem and had been developing a plan," PNT managing director Erin Sabo told MLive.com. " … That's what makes it so hard to swallow. Because so much effort went into coming up with a plan that would put us on better financial footing, … and then it was just gone. … We're all feeling pretty horrible right now. Feeling a little homeless."
Numerous aspects were credited with contributing to the debt, and PNT's payroll was described as not being processed in a timely manner.
"If a show is scheduled to gross $50,000, and it grosses $20,000, that's a $30,000 deficit you've accrued in 6 weeks," PNT associate artistic director Carla Milarch said. " … It was also a horrible winter for everybody; Richard III was not hitting like we thought it would; we didn't get a (Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs) grant. These were anomalies. … People weren't ignoring the situation. … It really can happen fast, and unless you have safety net, a reserve, or a board with incredibly deep pockets, there is no net. You're just in free fall."
Visit performancenetwork.org for more information.