Arkansas Repertory Theatre to Suspend Operations

by Michael Eddy
The interior of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre
The interior of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre

Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s Board of Directors announced that they will suspend current operations, effective immediately, and not complete the final production of the 2017-18 Season.

“The inability to reach its projected goals for charitable giving and ticket sales, and the change in the theatre landscape in Little Rock have created a perfect financial storm for The Rep,” said Board Chair Brian Bush. “The Rep’s ticket sales have been on a downhill slope for several years. Our community is on the verge of losing an amazing arts organization and tremendous asset to our city. Closing The Rep will have a devastating impact on the redevelopment of Main Street and the creative corridor.”

John Miller-Stephany has announced that he is stepping down as Producing Artistic Director on May 8th along with most other staff members. Only a critical few staff members will remain through the summer to conduct the Rep’s summer education program. “I am tremendously grateful for the opportunities afforded me—and for the personal support that I have received—during these past 18 months. My hope is that The Rep will survive the current crisis in some form. However, I sadly do not see a place for myself in the reimagined Rep,” Miller-Stephany said.

The Rep is immediately suspending production operations and canceling God of Carnage, the final production in The Rep’s 2017-18 Season. Those who have purchased tickets for God of Carnage will receive a tax receipt letter for the value of the tickets.

Effective August 3, The Rep will suspend all operations upon completion of its nearly sold out Education at The Rep summer program. Students who have already registered will be included in the final education program.

The future of the theatre is under evaluation. Board Chair-Elect Ruth Shepherd is leading a committee of board members and past board members to fundraise for and conceptualize a reimagined Arkansas Repertory Theatre. “It was devastating to vote to suspend operations and cancel the final show of our season, but we just don’t have the money right now,” Shepherd said. “Continuing to produce at the level in which Arkansas audiences have come to expect from The Rep would have put us more in debt. That said, I think this community loves The Rep and understands the value of having a professional theatre that produces work here for Arkansans. Therefore, I hope that everyone who cares will step up and write a check and offer to help reimagine what The Rep can be in our community and state.” “On behalf of the board, I’d like to thank the dedicated staff and creative teams that have given so much of their time and talents to The Rep” said Bush. “Arkansas Repertory Theatre is eternally grateful to the staff and supporters who have been there for us, our fellow artists, our audiences and our donors.”

Further information from the Arkansas Repertory Theatre: www.TheRep.org