Following this summer’s news that the West Village’s Cherry Lane Theatre—one of the oldest non-profit companies in the city since its founding in 1924—was in some financial trouble and sitting out the season, ArtsBeat reported yesterday that the company’s artistic director, Angelina Fiordellisi, will step down next year and plans to sell the company’s long-time two-theater home at 38 Commerce Street. Fiordellisi’s depressing explanation to the Times goes like so:
I feel that we can longer do theater for the sake of the art form. We have to adhere to the formula of having a film star in our productions to sell tickets because it’s so financially prohibitive. I don’t want to do theater like that.
Anybody looking for 179-seat and 60-seat performance spaces and got $12 million to spare?
Maybe if the Cherry Lane focused on producing works that a normal person could see — instead of politically-charged polemics that reflect a theatre community congratulating itself for for being so smart — it wouldn’t have to close its doors. Still, the real reason for the sale isn’t clear. (She bought it for 3 million and is selling for 12?) There are plenty of theatres making it work without stars — it’s a bogus excuse.
@juleshil: While I’m similarly unconvinced by Fiordellisi’s claim that non-commercial theater companies absolutely must cast stars in order to sell tickets and cover their costs (on Broadway, I’ll believe it), I think it’s pretty clear why they’re having to sell: because running a (relatively) large non-profit theater in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the country during a recession, with arts funding and philanthropy dwindling (not the case when she took over at the Cherry Lane) must be damn-near impossible.