Friday, February 13, 2009

madison nixes

the madison repertory theater, madison, wisconsin's leading professional theatre company since 1987, performing five shows a year plus a new play festival, has cancelled the remainder of it's 2008-09 season.


  1. I'm sorry but if a 30 person board and a professional staff can't raise $50,000 after being in business for over 40 years, that just smacks of incompetence or indifference.

    I worked for Madison Rep when Joe Handreddy was there. There is no bleeding way this kind of collapse could of occurred under the watch of him and Vicky Stewart I think was the GM then.

    Here's a real freakin' simple idea - the board all pitches in a grand a piece, you ask the staff, union and the overture center for some give backs until July 1, and you hold a mofo flash fundraiser. There's close to 50 grand right there.

  2. That really crappy news, Tony. I'm very sorry to hear it, however "blame" is to be ascribed. That's a few dozen less jobs, from front of house to production to management to actors and everyone in between - many of whom thought they had work to carry them through the season. It's also a loss to the cultural life of Madison and Wisconsin, one that I'm afraid a lot of people will underestimate. It's a loss to restaurants and shops around the theatre who'll no longer sell dinners and knickknacks to theatregoers...or lunches and toiletries to actors, for that matter.

    For want of $50,000 the economy stands to lose hundreds of thousands. It's a bloody shame.


  3. FYI -- the rep actually did raise enough money to continue the recent production of "bus stop". it was not, however, enough to carry them through to the end of the season.

    and vickie stewart, former managing director for madison rep, remains on the board of directors. so the theater is still, at least in some part, under her watch.

  4. BTW -- this post and comments section, regarding michigan stipping arts funding from it's state budget, seems relevant to the discussion here.

  5. That wooshing sound you hear is money flying from Madison to Spring Green. Just a WAG, but APT certainly considers itself, and sells itself, as a Madison cultural institution. So, their recent and successful Touchstone capital campaign couldn't have helped but suck dollars out of Madison groups, especially the rep. Don't get me wrong, as a long time APT fan, I wish them well. But when are we arts folks going to figure out that there's only so much coin to go around, especially in a third or fourth tier market like Madison.

  6. I think Madison Rep's situation has been a long time coming -- the result of several years of declining health. I'm very, very sad about this turn of events. I don't think it's easy to assign blame. The Overture Center was an exciting upgrade in facilities for the Rep, but it sounds like it's just too expensive for them and doesn't help them draw additional audience. The "if you build it, they will come" mantra that preceded the Overture construction doesn't seem to have panned out. Also, even before Overture, I think the Rep made some ill-advised decisions to try to grow the company in ways they weren't capable of sustaining over the long haul. Then the dive in the economy was enough to put them over the edge. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, right? I hope they can come back in whatever form works for them. It's so sad. There's been some great work done there over the years.

    Flamingo...just to clarify...are you suggesting that APT shouldn't fundraise in Madison in deference to Madison Rep?

  7. Gosh,no! I'm just saying that we need to realize that the cash can only go so far. APT has every right to fund raise wherever and however they like. And, perhaps the high quality of their product is speaking for itself, in terms of fundraising.

  8. The crystal ball says, "Madison Rep will become Madison's leading community theater." I see them going back to their roots. They may need to do that to rebuild, as long as they understand what they really want to rebuild.

  9. The idea that there is just so much money to go around and that all of the arts groups are chasing the same dollar is fallacious. 90% of theatre groups patrons are unique to themselves. That doesn't mean that theatre groups shouldn't work together where they can, but the idea that APT's fundraising has any effect on what happened to the Madison Rep is more than a stretch.

    As a 501c3 the Rep has to divest itself of all its belongings once it folds. The idea that they can simply take some time and regroup is problematic. Unless their infrastructure is being held for them by some other group (costumes, props, set pieces, office equipment) they will have to start over from scratch. Not an easy thing to do.


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