ATC ushers in new season amid stronger finances

2014-02-09T00:00:00Z 2014-02-09T07:34:48Z ATC ushers in new season amid stronger financesBy Kathleen Allen Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
February 09, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Six months ago, Arizona Theatre Company wasn’t sure it would be able to finish this season, let alone plan for a new one.

This week, the 2014-15 season was announced — a full season of six plays.

More than $1 million has been raised since August, when Mark Cole, who had been managing director for two years, resigned, leaving the company with a $1 million deficit.

The money raised “includes cash pledges and a couple of loans,” said Jessica Andrews, who came out of retirement to step into her old position as ATC’s managing director.

The bulk of the contributions to the theater, which is headquartered in Tucson but presents full seasons here and in Phoenix, came from Tucsonans, added Andrews.

“Tucson has been incredibly generous,” she said.

While the finances have improved, a national search has not yet been launched to replace Andrews and David Ira Goldstein, ATC’s artistic director. Goldstein resigned last summer after 21 years with the company, but agreed to stay until his replacement was named.

A national search for replacements is futile until the company is on solid ground, said Robert Glaser, chair of ATC’s board of trustees. A stronger company is more likely to attract stronger candidates.

“That’s why it didn’t take place last October,” said Glaser of a search. “There has to be a degree of financial stability, and I think we are approaching that.”

The board of trustees will meet within the next two months, he added, and a search for the company’s leaders “will be the centerpiece of our strategic discussion.”

Neither Andrews nor Goldstein intends to leave until their replacements are found.

“My commitment was through the end of the fiscal year (June 30), but there’s no way I’ll leave until somebody else is appointed,” said Andrews.

Goldstein echoed her.

“I’m staying until the job is done,” he said. “I’m here until they hire my replacement.”

While next season’s plays have been settled on, the 2014-15 budget has not. Andrews said she expects the budget to remain the same, at about $6.6 million.

“We won’t increase the budget until income is strong and steady,” she added. “We want to make sure we go into next year in a really strong financial position.”

Ticket prices for the coming season will not increase, she added.

Most of next season’s plays have small casts, and a number of them will be co-productions with other theaters. Co-productions allow theaters to share the cost of mounting a play.

When planning the season, Goldstein said he is mindful of budget, but there are other factors that go into selecting plays.

“It’s vitally important that ATC do a season with a lot of variety,” he said. “Audiences expect that of us . . . they trust that what they see this month is different than what they saw last month and will see the next.”

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