by Max Brantley
Slow fund-raising will slow the pace of renovation of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. As a result, the Rep will produce most of the coming season's shows in its home on Main Street.
Earlier, the $6 million renovation project was expected to force relocation of the shows to Wildwood and UALR. With The Rep about two-thirds of the way towards the fund goal, the renovation work will now be done in stages over a longer period of time than originally planned. Only one show will be moved to Wildwood. Renovation of public spaces will be deferred in favor of initial work on the roof, heating and air conditioning and a freight elevator.
REP NEWS RELEASE
(Little Rock) Renovations to Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s 601 Main Street location will start this winter as planned, but critical areas will be addressed first, including a new roof, new heating and air conditioning units and a new freight elevator. Additional work will follow over the course of the next 18 months.
“Renovation work on the building will start this winter, but instead of tackling the public spaces first, we will address more critical, though less visible, issues now,” said Bob Hupp, The Rep’s Producing Artistic Director. “This means that we’ll be out of our building this winter and spring for a much shorter time than originally anticipated.”
Most productions originally planned to be performed this winter and spring at UALR’s University Theatre and Wildwood Park for the Arts will now be located at The Rep’s Main Street location. Looking Over the President’s Shoulder, The Foreigner and Tommy will be performed at 601 Main Street, while The Elephant Man will be performed at Wildwood.
“Current economic conditions have certainly affected our capital campaign, which impacts our renovation timeline,” Hupp said. “With the current economic climate, everyone is feeling the pinch and Rep donors are no exception.”
Hupp said the success to date of The Rep’s capital campaign has been very rewarding, with over $3,750,000 raised toward a $6,000,000 goal. In late December, The Rep received word that the prestigious Kresge Foundation will provide the final $600,000 of the campaign.
“With only $1,650,000 left to raise, we’re optimistic that we’ll make our dream come true,” Hupp said. “We recognize that in a recession, it will take a little longer than originally planned. Of course we wanted to complete our renovation work as quickly as possible, but at the same time, we must be good stewards of the money that has been donated and pledged to our campaign.
“The continued fiscal health of The Rep factors into every decision we make,” Hupp said. “With that in mind, The Rep’s board of directors has made the prudent decision to amend our renovation timetable.”
The Rep Box Office will be reassigning tickets for the last half of The Rep’s 2009 season. Season Series subscribers will retain their usual seats, and all ticketholders will receive new tickets issued to them in the mail. Passholders can also make their reservations for the remainder of the season at any time by calling The Rep Box Office at (501) 378-0405.
“While we can’t control the ebb and flow of the world around us, we can say with confidence that we remain passionately and unswervingly dedicated to making the best possible contribution to the cultural life of our community and our state,” Hupp said.