The Center Theatre Group announced Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic has forced it to postpone the start of its 54th season at the Ahmanson Theatre until next spring, cut its operating budget by 65% and expand the number of employees who are furloughed.
Officials noted that the Center Theatre Group’s three stages — the Ahmanson and Mark Taper Forum in downtown Los Angeles and the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City — will have been dark for more than 56 weeks when performances resume April 29 at the Ahmanson with a full season of seven shows ,starting with “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
The timing for the play “Slave Play” at the Mark Taper Forum and the remainder of the season for that venue and the Kirk Douglas Theatre have not been announced, but both are expected to reopen next spring, officials said.
The nonprofit theater company announced that the unprecedented dark period is expected to result in losses of about $40 million in ticket revenue across the three venues, force a 65% cut in its operating budget over the upcoming fiscal year and require an expansion of the number of full-time employees on furlough from 50% to 60% of its staffing before the pandemic.
“It is with great sadness that we have reached a point where it is simply impossible for us to envision safely returning to the Ahmanson, Taper and Douglas until spring of next year,” said Michael Ritchie, the organization’s artistic director.
“Since we first announced our closure during the initial wave of the pandemic, we have been tirelessly working through every possible scenario for reopening, all the while ensuring that the health and safety of our audiences, artists and staff were our top priority,” he said. “Ultimately, it became clear to us, and to many touring productions scheduled to play the Ahmanson, that there is no way to be certain that such safety could exist earlier than next year.”
He noted that the organization — which has shifted its education and community programming online — would “work as quickly and safely as possible to return to the stage sooner” if health officials became more optimistic about a safe timeline to resume large gatherings.
Center Theatre Group has launched “Art Goes On: Emergency Giving Fund” — at CenterTheatreGroup.org/EmergencyGiving — to help carry the organization through the period because it must rely more heavily now on contributed income.
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