Arkansas Repertory Theatre Announces Suspension Until Further Notice

The community of downtown Little Rock is on the verge of losing an incredible arts organization and tremendous asset to the city.

According to a press release by Interim Director of Marketing and Audience Engagement Amy Westlake, Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Board of Directors announced that they will "suspend current operations, effective immediately, and not complete the final production of the 2017-18 Season."

The statement follows reports that the theatre has been unable to reach its projected goals for charitable giving and ticket sales. Board Chair Brian Bush admitted "the Rep’s ticket sales have been on a downhill slope for several years."

Arkansas Rep has a budget of $4 million and is the largest theatre in the state. The Rep currently relies on season subscriptions, special events, foundation support, corporate and individual donations and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and Arkansas Arts Council.

On May 8, producing artistic director John Miller-Stephany will step down from his role along with a majority of the staff members. Miller-Stephany has led the theatre since 2016.

A few staffers will stay on to conduct the Rep’s summer education program, after which the theatre will suspend all operations on August 3rd. Board chair-elect Ruth Shepherd is leading a committee of board members to fundraise for the Rep.

The press release closed with a plea for donations, noting the theater needs "$750,000 immediately" in addition to a "capital needs campaign to begin to build a future."

Arkansas Repertory Theatre,  Arkansas Times

Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Times

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, founded in 1976 by Cliff Fannin Baker, is the state’s largest non-profit professional theatre company and member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT). The Rep has produced more than 350 productions including 40 world premieres on its 377-seat theatre located in its historic building in downtown Little Rock. The Rep employees a resident staff of over 30 designers, technicians and administrators who create six to seven productions for an annual audience in excess of 70,000 for productions and educational programming. The Rep brings Tony Award-winners and other nationally recognized artists to its stages, and is locally recognized as the Best Live Theatre and the Best Performing Arts Organization by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Arkansas Times.

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