(Photo via Flickr user Paul Sableman, used under a Creative Commons license)
Change can be hard and admitting the need for change can be even harder.
It’s why we were pretty surprised to hear that Philadelphia Theatre Company (PTC), the nonprofit located at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre on the Avenue of the Arts, is taking the 2017-18 season off “to get our house in order,” according to E. Gerald Riesenbach, the company’s board chair, who spoke to Philly.com.
The time off means that starting in September, instead of the regular lineup of five self-produced plays, special productions — “readings of new plays, comedy, speakers, music, and concert-format musicals” — will make up PTC’s programming.
It seems like the main reason for stepping back is finances: According to Philly.com, PTC has an estimated $1 million debt, on top of needing to pay TD Bank back on a $1.85 million loan by 2020.
But it’s also sounding like the company’s new producing artistic director Paige Price has plans to be “doing some intensive R&D” to reassess PTC’s identity and figure out who its audience is.
“That’s the million-dollar question,” Price told Philly.com. “We’re not alone among arts organizations in seeing the entertainment space get more and more competitive, with people choosing to spend time online instead of in an area watching live theater. We have to be more nimble.”
The R&D process, so far, has involved Price reaching out to smaller theater companies around the city, like InterAct Theatre Company and Wilma Theater, to get a sense of the local theater community. As for those smaller productions this season, Price will also be looking to do more collaborations and co-productions, calling upon her former contacts and network to help with that.
In an industry where any sort of change, especially for a major nonprofit like PTC, can be seen as scary, we’re looking forward to see what time off is able to accomplish for the company’s future.
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