Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cash-strapped Theatre in the Square shakes up staff

Posted By on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Producing director Palmer Wells
Two weeks ago, Theatre in the Square managing director Raye Varney told me that, while the Marietta playhouse fell $350,000 short of its 2011 fundraising goal, "With the community’s support, we will be able to finish the season (which runs through May)."

Less than half a month later, Varney has resigned her position as managing director, saying, "It is my hope that the loss of my salary will allow my team to remain employed longer. I wish the very best for Theatre in the Square and feel fortunate to have worked for six years to help lead it through both good times and bad. Finally, I encourage all those who love the arts to support their local arts organization with their talents and their resources.”

According to the theater's press announcement, the managing director position will not be immediately filled:

Day-to-day activities of the staff members will be coordinated by Susan Reid, who will serve as Managing Director in an interim capacity. In additional cuts to managerial overhead, Theatre in the Squareʼs producing director and co-founder, Palmer Wells, has agreed to work without pay until the theatre's financial position improves. Over the past two years, the group has eliminated staff positions, reduced staff salaries by 10 percent, and reduced the two directors' salaries by 20 percent.

An urgent fund-raising effort was announced last September when Wells noted that the Theatre with its $1.5 million budget was on the brink of financial disaster. The Theatre announced a two-phase campaign to raise the funds necessary for survival. The first goal, to secure $350,000 by December 31, 2011, to ensure the current season would be completed, was met six weeks late. Phase Two of the campaign is an effort to raise an additional $400,000 before June 30, 2012. According to Board Chair Mike Russell, fundraising would be virtually the only item on the agenda for the annual board retreat at the theater on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Theatre in the Square's next main stage production, Pearl Cleage's Flyin' West, opens March 7.

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