Another One Bites the Dust

Make that two….or maybe three.  This week brought news of the closures of Shakespeare Santa Cruz at the end of the calendar year and Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre at the end of its current season.  Dance New Amsterdam (DNA), which filed for bankruptcy in May will close Sunday night if it can’t raise $50,000.  Statements from the organizations are telling:

  • “The board [of C’oeur d’Alene Summer Theatre] said in statement issued Wednesday by president Joe Anderson that CST owed more than it had cash on hand.”
  • “DNA has determined that its current challenging liquidity situation prevents it from pursuing a long-term business plan at this time.”
  • UC Santa Cruz, where Shakespeare Santa Cruz is a resident company, said that “Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s cumulative debt rose from $1.48 million to $1.98 million at the end of fiscal year 2012-13.”
photo: forbes.com

photo: forbes.com

I don’t have any inside knowledge about these three specific organizations, but speaking in general terms, insufficient cash flow, insufficient liquidity, and debt are symptoms of structural problems.  These structural problems may include the insufficient capitalization endemic to the arts and culture sector (a problem that Janet Brown has written about more eloquently than I could), as well as mission drift, ineffective business planning, and the design flaws of the not-for-profit arts economy that have been evident in my own community.  I was struck by a statement from one of the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre’s board members:

“While we are a non-profit organization, we are not entitled to exist simply because we are passionate about what we provide. We must serve the needs of the people in our community. We don’t exist in spite of our audiences, we exist because of and to serve our audiences.”

Amen.  (And lest you think this means the theatre should be providing more “popular fare” think again. This theatre has been offering its community a steady diet of big Broadway style musicals for years.)

About lindaessig

Linda Essig is director of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Programs at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, including its award-winning arts entrepreneurship program, Pave: http://pave.asu.edu The opinions expressed on creativeinfrastructure are her own and not those of ASU. You can follow her on twitter @LindaInPhoenix and "like" the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship at http://www.facebook.com/pages/pave-program-in-arts-entrepreneurship/386328970101 Find Pave's journal, Artivate, at http://artivate.org
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One Response to Another One Bites the Dust

  1. Pingback: Another One Bites the Dust | Symposium Magazine

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