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Alaska regional theatre company furloughs employees

JUNEAU, Alaska — A regional theatre company in Alaska has furloughed its employees after experiencing multiple years of financial problems, officials said.

The management of Perseverance Theatre asked workers to reduce hours at the beginning of this month after cancelling its most recent production, the Juneau Empire reported last week.

The Douglas Island-based theatre suddenly cancelled showings of "Snow Child" scheduled for Anchorage in late May.

The theatre company incurred six-figure debt in 2015 and 2016 with the second budget shortfall hitting the theatre hard, said Art Rotch, the theatre's executive director.

"The first one we had reserves for, the second one is a little harder," Rotch said. "We've been working on ways to capitalize and finance that loss, and we're still doing that. So that's ultimately the root cause of our challenges, tight cash flow due to losses going back a couple years, which we're still working on capitalizing."

Rotch declined to say how many employees have been furloughed or the size of the debt. Perseverance Board President Joe Bedard could not immediately be reached for comment.

When asked if the non-profittheatre will be forced to close, Rotch said he does not know without more information about the extent of the debt.

"To some extent, there's always a chance that an arts organization that's non-profit can end, so we can't ever take these things for granted," Rotch said. "But to really give you a sense of what is the chance, the percentage chance, I'm not sure right now."

The theatre had expected $170,000 in revenue from the production cancelled last month. Washington, D.C.-based Arena Stage had partnered with the Alaska theatre company to bring "Snow Child" to the state. The musical is based on Alaska author Eowyn Ivey's 2011 novel.

The "short answer" for the cancellation is that the company did not have enough money to put the show on, Rotch said.

Perseverance Theatre expanded to Anchorage in 2014.


Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire,

The Associated Press

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