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Arena Stage Moves Shows to Broadway, Garners Four Tony Awards & Finishes 2009 With a Balanced Budget

During Arena Stage's 58th season the theater faced the difficult challenges of the economic crisis early on, and after the conclusion of its 2009 fiscal year, Arena reports the books have closed in the black. While the financial success, in the face of such an unpredictable year, is paramount to the strength of Arena and its future, the theater also succeeded on and off the stage this year in numerous, exceptional ways.

"The list of achievements contributed by the staff, artists, board of trustees and supporters of Arena this year-Part One of Arena Restaged, our first full-season away from our D.C. theater campus-is remarkable," comments Artistic Director Molly Smith. "In the same way in which we've ‘Restaged' ourselves geographically, we've restaged the way we work artistically and administratively. Despite the financial circumstances surrounding the theater this year, Arena has been stable. "

Balanced Budgets in the Black
Arena Stage has concluded its fiscal year with a slight surplus. Due to the proactive measures that the board and staff leadership implemented in the fall of 2008, The company was well equipped to meet the challenges of the current economic crisis. The company continued to produce the highest quality work while remaining dedicated to financially sound business practices. "One of the things that attracted me to Arena Stage was the ambition of the artistic mission paired with the fiscal discipline of the staff and board," commented Edgar Dobie, Arena Stage's new Managing Director. "To inherit a balanced budget from a company producing top quality work is truly a gift in today's world."

Return to Broadway
For the first time since 1979, two productions that were recently produced by Arena Stage were on Broadway at the same time: Moisés Kaufman's 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda and Next to Normal featuring the entire Arena cast. The Broadway production of 33 Variations was nominated for five Tony Awards, and won for Best Scenic Design of a Play. Next to Normal received 11 nominations and took home three awards including Best Score, Best Performance of a Leading Actress in a Musical and Best Orchestrations.

These two productions will be followed by a recent tour seen at Arena Stage: Carrie Fisher's Wishful Drinking, which is scheduled to open on Broadway Fall 2009.

This brings the count of productions with a life on Broadway after one at Arena to 13. Previous productions include: Execution of Justice, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, K2, Tintypes, The 1940's Radio Hour, Loose Ends, A History of the American Film, Zalmen or the Madness of God, Boccaccio, Moonchildren and The Great White Hope.

New Leadership
The Arena Board of Trustees appointed Edgar Dobie as the new Managing Director of the theater in March 2009. With roots in non-profit theater management in the U.S. and Canada, Dobie is a Tony Award-winning commercial producer who began working with Arena at the end of March. Dobie succeeded Interim Managing Director Guy Bergquist, who led the theater after former Executive Director Stephen Richard left in Spring 2008 after 17 years with Arena Stage.

Carmel Owen was hired as Chief Development Officer. Owen is responsible for the Fundraising efforts of both the Arena Stage Annual Fund and the completion of the Next Stage Campaign. Owen comes to Arena Stage with 25 years experience in fundraising with organizations like the Children's Defense Fund, the Girl Scouts of the USA and Columbia University.
The Mead Center: On time and On budget
Though this spring brought extended days of rain, which delayed scheduled work on the construction site, the renovation on the Southwest D.C. theater campus remains on time for an opening date in the Fall of 2010. The project is also still on budget. The multi-purpose campaign total goal remains $125 million.

New Theaters and Neighborhoods
Arena began producing at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Northwest D.C. during the fall of 2008, bringing four productions with runs of severAl Weeks each, to a venue which primarily features one or two evening performances.

After producing for a full year in our temporary venue in Crystal City, the Arlington County Cultural Affairs Division and the Commission of the Arts commissioned a study conducted by the Crystal City Business Improvement District that revealed The company brings $3.614 million in additional revenue to Crystal City, with restaurants reporting positive growth rates between 7 and 20 percent after Arena Stage's arrival.

Box Office Breakthroughs
Arena Stage broke sales office records during November's New Deal Sale when the theater sold 6,661 tickets for nearly $200,000 in revenue in one day, more than doubling our previous highest grossing day. The New Deal Salewas Arena's theater-going stimulus to give patrons a chance to see quality theater at a significantly reduced price.For one day on Friday, November 14, all tickets for the first week of each remaining production of the season were $25 each. Following the success of the New Deal Sale, numerous regional theaters implemented similar programs including American Repertory Theatre, Dallas Theater Center, Huntington Theatre Company and Portland Center Stage. The New Deal Sale was so popular that Arena chose to implement a $25 New Deal seating section for all remaining shows limited to the last four rows in the Crystal City venue and the upper balcony at the Lincoln Theatre. This resulted in 11,877 additional tickets sold through the remainder of the season.

International Ticketing Association (INTIX) selected Arena Stage as the recipient for the 2009 Outstanding Box Office Award. INTIX represents over 1,200 members from 23 countries. This yearly honor recognizes only one box office. Arena Stage's nomination focused on the year-long challenges of moving mid-season to Crystal City in Arlington, VA from the theater's home in Southwest D.C. in 2007, as well as the current challenges entailed in serving a large subscriber, patron and usher base in two cities. During the renovation of the Mead Center, Arena performs at the Lincoln Theatre in Northwest D.C. as well as in Crystal City. The Arena staff faced these complex logistical challenges with the teamwork and professionalism needed to earn an outstanding reputation with patrons and within the ticketing world.

New Play Development initiatives
In addition to the development of three new plays workshopped during the 2009 Downstairs New Play Reading Series, Arena continues to support the future of American theater by serving as the administrator of the National Endowment for Arts' (NEA) New Play Development Program, which supports the development of seven projects at theaters across the nation. In partnership with the NEA, Arena has provided a forum that not only encourages the dialogue around existing and new models for new play development, but also actively supports the dissemination of any findings throughout the field. Frequent updates from Arena and participating theater companies can be viewed here: http://npdp.arenastage.org.

Artistic Achievements on Stage
Part One of Arena Restaged featured work by some of America's most talented actors, designers and playwrights including Edward Albee, Irving Berlin, Daniel Beaty, Kathleen Chalfant, Carrie Fisher, Michael Greif, Valerie Harper, Maureen McGovern and Alice Ripley among many others.

For information regarding Part Two of Arena Restaged, the final year of programming before the opening of Arena Stage at The Mead Center for American Theater, visit www.arenastage.org.

Under the leadership of Artistic Director Molly Smith and Managing Director Edgar Dobie, Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage has become the largest theater in the country dedicated to American plays and playwrights. Founded in 1950 by Zelda Fichandler, Thomas Fichandler and Edward Mangum, Arena Stage was one of the nation's original resident theaters and has a distinguished record of leadership and innovation in the field. With the opening of the new Mead Center for American Theater in 2010, Arena Stage will be a leading center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 200,000. For more information please visit www.arenastage.org.


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