Shakespeare Santa Cruz, in Dire Straits, May Shut Down

News   Shakespeare Santa Cruz, in Dire Straits, May Shut Down
The future of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the professional theatre company in residence at the University of California, Santa Cruz, is in jeopardy following several money-losing seasons and facing an economic downturn.

Leaders of the 27-year-old organization announced on Dec. 14 that they are desperately seeking support by Dec. 22 or its doors will close.

"In addition to its regular annual campaign, SSC must raise $300,000 by noon on Monday, Dec. 22, 2008," according to the announcement. "Should SSC not succeed, the organization will be required to go dark for 2009, and therefore permanently."

Shakespeare Santa Cruz (SSC) managing director Marcus Cato is projecting a $500,000 loss for 2008, primarily due to shortfalls in ticket sales and contributions.

As the host organization, UC Santa Cruz's Arts Division has been absorbing SSC's accumulating deficit, and the university has been working with the theatre company on proposals to address the deficit.

"UCSC has in the past afforded SSC the opportunity to continue its operations in the belief that SSC can eventually reach independent financial sustainability while it continues to provide an invaluable artistic and cultural experience to both students and the wider community," a statement reads. "However, with the dramatic impact the current economic climate has had on all sectors, and on the State of California in particular, UCSC can no longer offer SSC this financial fall back position. Despite restrictive budgets, UCSC leadership believes in the value of SSC and has been working closely with SSC board and staff to ensure its survival. After two months of discussions regarding SSC's 2009 season and its future, an agreement was reached on Friday, December 12, 2008. SSC staff and Board of Directors, the UCSC Arts Division and the UCSC Chancellor's Office have committed to jointly pursue this agreement: in order to present a 2009 season, and to ensure that any financial risk to UCSC is minimized." This agreement doesn't mean money is in place, and the quest for cash continues.

Based on a 2005 economic impact study by Americans for the Arts, SSC had an overall impact of $4 million to the local economy in 2008.

For the pending 2009 season, SSC artistic director Marco Barricelli has proposed a slate of three plays "to be produced within the framework of both a conservative expense budget and realistic revenue goals." SSC has proposed a reduced 2009 budget of $1.45 million, down from $2 million in 2008. This budget allows SSC to continue as a professional repertory company, hiring Equity actors and union designers, directors and artisans to maintain the level of artistic excellence.

The proposed season includes Shakespeare's comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream and the tragedy Julius Caesar, both performing in the outdoor Festival Glen, plus the Bay Area premiere of the family-friendly Shipwrecked! An Entertainment - The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself) by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies, to be performed on the indoor Mainstage Theatre.

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