Santa Cruz Good Times

Monday
Sep 01st
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Challenging Times

AE-2Actors’ Theatre faces financial troubles
The recession has lambasted everything from mom-and-pop businesses to large corporations, but perhaps the most battered and bruised entity is the arts. We all remember the financial debacle that nearly canceled Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s 2009 summer season, but now the tides have turned on one of Downtown Santa Cruz’s own.

Tucked into the back corner of an unassuming Center Street building, sits Actors’ Theatre, an 88-seat black box where locals have come to see classical, contemporary and new plays, as well as improv, for the last 25 years.

It may look modest from the outside, but the theater has a history of resiliency that makes Operations Manager and Artistic Director Gerry Gerringer and Vice President of the Board Wilma Marcus Chandler confident in its ability to overcome their current economic hardship. Due to ever-rising overheard costs—specifically, dramatic rent increases, royalties and maintenance—this year is especially difficult for Actors’ Theatre. If Actors’ Theatre does not receive significant help from the community by Sept. 30, it will have to cut production and become primarily a rental venue once again. (This has happened before.)

“We’ve braved a lot of storms,” says Marcus Chandler, who recalls theater damage following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. “But being a nonprofit theater, we don’t have the luxury of state funding or school funding.”

AE-2-2Having worked at Cabrillo College and UC Santa Cruz, Marcus Chandler has seen the impact that a large budget can have on production value and would hate to see Actors’ Theatre lose their reputation for high caliber theater because of lack of funding.

“We’re struggling to survive,” says Gerringer. “Our operating expenses range from $50,000 to $100,000 per year and ticket prices only cover a fraction of that—we’re asking for help so that we can have a season.”

While the two believe that high unemployment numbers and penny-pinching have greatly impacted ticket sales, their audience demographic might also explain their monetary woes.  With a plummet in the number of attendees under 40 since the 1980s, the theater seems unable to compete with the Internet, TV and movies.

In an effort to appeal to people in their 20s and 30s, Gerringer will direct “Dead Man’s Cell Phone”—a play about a woman who answers a stranger’s phone, only to find out that the man is dead and the call will catapult her into a series of uncanny events—to run Sept. 17 to Oct. 10. “It’s very modern,” says Gerringer. “It really addresses the idea that the more people are connected technologically, the more they’re disconnected personally.”

Modern productions aren’t the only way that the company has attempted to lure theatergoers. “It’s tougher to get audience members in the door now, so we’ve had to be innovative,” says Gerringer, who says the company has tried to raise money by doing an Improvathon, a Bowlathon, a Shameless Variety Show and they also have plans to start offering acting classes.

“The arts are not luxuries; they are crucial to our life and well-being,” says Marcus Chandler. And despite that Actors’ Theatre has had to adjust their budget and cut down on some technical aspects, she assures patrons that production value will not be compromised. “There is a tradition that dates back to Poland after WWII called ‘Poor Theater’; it rises out of the ashes with no flashy lights or flashy sets, just great acting—you can find that quality here.”

Rather than sacrifice the quality of their productions, the two are looking for volunteers to help with publicity and backstage work as well as corporate sponsorships and donations from past performers and technicians.

“I think there has been a lot of perseverance in the theater community here,” says Gerringer. “But we’re hurting and we really need the support of the community.”


To help support Actors’ Theatre, please mail your donation to 1001 Center St., Santa Cruz, 95060. For more information, visit santacruzactorstheatre.org. Send comments on this article to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.