Southern Rep Theatre Announces GoFundMe Campaign To Keep Its Doors Open
Nationally acclaimed new play development theatre, Southern Rep, finds itself in a heartbreaking situation. Ticket sales and mainstage subscriptions are at an all-time high. Arts education programming is thriving. Audiences are raving about the work and the company's new venue, the former St. Rose de Lima Church on Bayou Road. And still, Southern Rep finds itself in an urgent financial crisis as it navigates the expenses of moving into their new home.
"In one and a half short years, our building has become a crucial gathering place for dynamic theatrical experiences - a hotbed of creativity and a source of strength for the New Orleans economy and creative community. While we anticipated increased costs and small annual deficits in the transition to this new venue, we counted on contributed income forecasts to bridge the gap," says Producing Artistic Director Aimée Hayes.
Board President Bruce Gordon adds, "The move to build an arts destination here in the center of New Orleans has pushed us to the next level as an arts organization, and the budget necessary to meet expenses increased from about $800,000 annually in 2018 to about $1.2 million this year. That's a 50% increase in two years plus the costs of the move! We've made substantial progress, increasing our revenue almost 40% since 2018, but we must raise funds now to settle some of the move-in debt and close the remaining gap."
To address the crisis, Southern Rep is launching a GoFundMe Campaign at charity.gofundme.com/savesouthernrep and asking its networks of friends and colleagues locally and nationally to help raise $350,000 by March 31, 2020 to keep its doors open.
In addition, in order to reduce near-term expenses, Southern Rep has furloughed staff; cancelled the fifth play of its season, REYKJAVIK by Steve Yockey, a National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere; suspended the 4D new play development program; and put Care for Creatives, its mental health self-care program for art-makers, on hiatus. However, youth education activities for this spring are being maintained due to education grants and support from its program partner, the New Orleans Jewish Community Center.
Southern Rep's doors are still open as it continues to host special events and performances by independent producers. See full month listing of events at http://www.southernrep.com/calendar/, including music, comedy, film screenings, and more.
The closing of SOUTHERN REP THEATRE would be a great loss for artists and audiences here in the New Orleans region and across the country as the theatre:
- Employs more than 200 artists annually.
- Issues the most Actors' Equity Association contracts of any theater in Louisiana.
- Produces award-winning regional premieres.
- Served more than 10,000 people with 300+ performances last year.
- Last season, its Mainstage featured three world premiere plays by New Orleans playwrights, including FLOWERS FOR HALIE by Troi Bechet; MANDATORY MERRIMENT by Ian Hoch and Leslie Castay; and Christina Quintana's play AZUL, which was Southern Rep's first bilingual production.
- This season, instituted an all-ages rush program with $10-15 tickets for every show.
- The Sanctuary Stage is a new venue in the heart of the city for music, dance, poetry, drag art, comedy, cabaret, live podcasts, improv, circus, readings, new play development workshops, theatre for young audiences, interactive experiences, live soap opera, film screenings, devised work, storytelling, touring acts, gospel, lit chats, fiction reading, fringe festival performances, and more.
- Southern Rep nurtures playwrights to create stories that reflect the diversity of New Orleans. In that spirit it has planned a trilogy of work about its new neighborhood:
- Commissioned Pamela Davis-Noland's CHEMIN DU BAYOU, which tells the story of Bayou Road from 1000 years ago to now for 2019-2020.
- 2020-2021 includes HOLY WARS by Rob Florence directed by Kathy Randels in a collaboration with ArtSpot which focuses on historic figures from St. Rose de Lima church with music by Sunpie Barnes, Bill Summers, and Harold Brown.
- For 2021-22, a commission to a local writer to reflect on modern New Orleans.
A successful campaign will allow Southern Rep to rehire staff; pay down expenses; provide high-quality arts education programs this summer and beyond; reinstate the 4D new play development program and Care for Creatives; complete its season with the world premiere of CHEMIN DU BAYOU by Pamela Davis-Noland, which starts rehearsals April 14; and fully implement continued efforts to increase earned revenue and stabilize operations for the 2020-21 season. For now, Southern Rep commits to the following:
- Secure co-tenants such as producers, arts organizations, and possibly a daytime café
- Increase and diversify production on its two stages to welcome more new audiences
- Launch new marketing initiatives to ensure all New Orleanians know what's here
- Increase education offerings to serve more people of all ages in the community
- Seek to increase operating hours for the Sanctuary Bar
- Ramp up venue rentals for film and TV
- Increase weddings and special event rentals
Southern Rep Theatre has long been New Orleans' flagship theatre for new and contemporary plays. Here are a few highlights of its accomplishments: i??
- The production of Ntozake Shange's translation of Bertolt Brecht's MOTHER COURAGE AND HER CHILDREN was ground-breaking: its success has encouraged the writers' estates to make the play available for other companies after a 40-year hiatus.
- Produced the civil rights epic ALL THE WAY with over thirty community and professional actors.
- Developed and produced the premiere of Joe and Andrew Doss's play SONG OF A MAN COMING THROUGH which took on criminal justice issues in Louisiana via the true story of Earnest Knighton, Jr.
- Brought Lisa D'Amour's award-winning plays, DETROIT and AIRLINE HIGHWAY, home to Louisiana.
- Presented UNIVERSES here for their only New Orleans run.
- Produced Taylor Mac's THE LILY'S REVENGE, a five-act, five-hour, four-theatre company extravaganza.
- Commissioned four plays about Hurricane Katrina, including the RISING WATER TRILOGY by John Biguenet, and THE BREACH by Catherine Filloux, Tarell Alvin McCraney, and Joe Sutton, creating a theatrical record of the city's recovery.
- Produced the National New Play Network Rolling World Premiere of Andrew Hinderaker's groundbreaking play COLOSSAL, which included a football team, dance interludes, live music, and a central character portrayed by an actor who uses a wheelchair.
For more information or questions about the GoFundMe Campaign, please contact Aimée Hayes, Producing Artistic Director at firstname.lastname@example.org and 504-453-6581. charity.gofundme.com/savesouthernrep. Contributions can also be made by check: Southern Rep, 2541 Bayou Rd, New Orleans, LA 70119.