It might be the end of an era for this Little Rock institution.
The 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 inability to reach its projected goals for charitable giving and ticket sales, and the change in the theatre landscape in Little Rock have created a perfect financial storm for The Rep,” said board chair Brian Bush. “The Rep’s ticket sales have been on a downhill slope for several years. Our community is on the verge of losing an amazing arts organization and tremendous asset to our city. Closing The Rep will have a devastating impact on the redevelopment of Main Street and the creative corridor.”
Here's how the suspension will work, effective May 8:
- John Miller-Stephany has announced that he is stepping down as Producing Artistic Director on May 8 along with most other staff members. Only a critical few staff members will remain through the summer to conduct the Rep’s summer education program.
- Production operations will end immediately.
- Production of God of Carnage, the final production in The Rep's 2017-18 season, will end now. Those who have purchased tickets for this production will receive a tax receipt letter for the value of the tickets.
- Planning for the 2018-19 season will end.
- The Rep will complete obligations to host ArtWorks this Saturday, April 28 and Ballet Arkansas with Drew Mays May 4-6.
The next phase of the shut-down will be effective on Aug. 3. After The Rep's nearly sold out Education at The Rep ends, the plan is to suspend all operations.
However, the future of The Rep is still unclear. The press release also said that the future of the theatre is under evaluation. Board Chair-Elect Ruth Shepherd is leading a committee of board members and past board members to fundraise for and conceptualize a reimagined Arkansas Repertory Theatre. Hopefully, this isn't goodbye.
“It was devastating to vote to suspend operations and cancel the final show of our season, but we just don’t have the money right now,” said Board Chair-Elect Ruth Shepherd. “Continuing to produce at the level in which Arkansas audiences have come to expect from The Rep would have put us more in debt. That said, I think this community loves The Rep and understands the value of having a professional theatre that produces work here for Arkansans. Therefore, I hope that everyone who cares will step up and write a check and offer to help reimagine what The Rep can be in our community and state.”