"Gruesome Playground Injuries," which runs through
Along with Blumenthal Performing Arts,
Regarded as the city's most eclectic theater company, CAST uses an "experiential" technique that immerses its audiences in environments that match the theme of the production, from the lobby to the seating area.
The company recently staged the first production in Charlotte of "Angels in America" since the mid-1990s. Under longtime artistic director
Simmons could not be reached for comment. He told Observer theater critic
"We have spent the last several months considering a variety of options of ways to try to move forward," she said. "We've engaged professional counsel as part of that, we also did a marketing and fundraising initiative. ... None of it was enough to mitigate the ongoing financial difficulties."
"At the end of the day," she said, "we need to be responsible and not continue to take money that we know is not gonna help us get through it."
CAST's budget is in the range of
With the help of
Ticket sales are budgeted at about half of CAST's revenue; by comparison, the
Now, "we're back to the kinds of numbers we were seeing before we had this space, and that's just not sustainable," she said. "As with all nonprofits -- particularly arts organizations -- in the last five years things have gotten very, very tight. We had some motivation around the move and got some good (contributed) revenues that year as people were excited about what we were doing ... but it was one-time energy, and that has dissipated."
"Every nonprofit arts organization has to look at the bottom line every year in a budgetary process, and you just never know when something is going to affect that," he said. "Most regional theaters right now are operating very, very cautiously. Optimistically cautiously. ... When something like this happens in our community, it's just a sad day indeed."
"Whenever you went to a CAST show, from the very minute you walked in the door, you were experiencing what that particular production was all about -- from the very minute you walked in, until the show was over," Shoemaker said. "They were proving to be a training ground for actors and artisans and technicians, and providing opportunities and employment for those particular jobs, so that's another part of this that's sad."
Walker said CAST has no intention of declaring bankruptcy, and the board believes it will be able to pay off all debts. A "tribute campaign" has been launched to raise money that she said will help cover costs of ceasing operations, but also to allow the company to celebrate its legacy.
"At least we can try," Walker said, "to focus on the positive -- all the awards we won, all the amazing shows we've put on, and the diversity we've brought to the Charlotte theater community."
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