May 2012 Board Press Highlights Lehman, Daniel, “Philadelphia’s Theatre Alliance Takes a Final Bow” Backstage, 4/19/2012 Editor, “CommunityCalendar: Arts” Glenside News, 4/19/2012 Shapiro, Howard, “Philadelphia Theatre Alliance calling it quits” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/12/2012 Editor, “Last concert of the season scheduled at art center” Fort Washington Globe / Times Chronicle, 4/12/2012 Crimmins, Peter, “Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia ends its run” Newsworks, 4/11/2012 Shapiro, Howard, “Philadelphia Theatre Alliance folding up shop” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/11/2012 Zebe, Mike, “People in the News” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/9/2012 Editor, “United We Stand – Listings” Sunday Tribune, 4/1/2012 Van Allen, Peter, “Two museums lag” Philadelphia Business Journal, 3/22/2012 Kostelni, Natalie, “1616 Walnut vacating tenants” Philadelphia Business Journal, 3/15/2012 Editor, “Listings: St. Patrick’s Day!” Courier News Weekly, 3/14/2012 Brewster, Haywood, “University City District re-launches website: universitycity.org” University City Review, 3/7/2012
Philadelphia's Theatre Alliance Takes a Final Bow Daniel Lehman April 19, 2012 After more than two decades dedicated to developing the theater community and its audiences in Philadelphia, the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia declares, "Mission accomplished." The alliance has announced its plans to discontinue operations at the end of its fiscal year on June 30. Rather than compete for arts funding with the same theaters and artists it was created to serve, the nonprofit group's 25-member board of directors voted April 5 to turn over its responsibilities and support for theater in the region to other organizations, according to a memo released to members April 11. Margie Salvante, the Theatre Alliance's executive director since 2007, has also announced her resignation, effective June 30. "We're trying very hard to avoid saying we're calling it quits," Salvante told Back Stage, "and instead we're declaring victory. We want very much to reassure the public at large that theater in Philadelphia is thriving as it never has before." Philadelphia has 51 professional stages, the most in the city's history, and these area theaters employ more than 1,000 people, from actors, directors, and producers to costume, sound, lighting, and scenic designers, box-office personnel, and more. The region has nearly 1,000 Actors' Equity members. This positive trend -- matched with a growing online community and more competitors moving into the market -- led the alliance to reconsider its role and the viability of its business model. A thriving theater scene was the goal when the alliance was formed in 1990. It is now a reality, and the alliance's job is done. "So many arts organizations around the country are afraid of throwing in the towel or calling it quits that they continue to hang on well past their needs being met," Salvante said. "The Theatre Alliance board is trying to make a bold step." While the name may fade, many of the Theatre Alliance's programs will live on. The Walnut Street Theatre will take over the alliance's annual combined auditions program, through which performers are able to audition for 30 or more artistic directors at one time. (The 2012 auditions will be held as planned on April 30.) The Wilma Theater will
oversee the Tessitura Project, a ticketing system that 10 theaters use as their box-office program. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance -- which represents all of the arts in the area, including theater -- is considering taking on some of the Theatre Alliance's membership services and audience development program, including online theater listings. The fate of the annual Barrymore Awards is undecided, but Salvante promises that the awards will continue to honor excellence in theater. Tom Kaiden, president of the Cultural Alliance, told Back Stage that tough economic times have made all cultural and service organizations re-examine their missions and re-evaluate the most effective ways to impact their communities. "I think that means ensuring that we're delivering on the essence of our mission as efficiently as we can," Kaiden said. "In some cases, that's going to lead to consolidation and collaboration, and in the long run that's a healthy thing for the sector, as long as we stay really focused on the critical role that culture plays in making for vibrant communities."
Philadelphia Theatre Alliance calling it quits Howard Shapiro April 12, 2012
It's curtains for the Greater Philadelphia Theatre Alliance, the organization serving theaters and audiences over two decades of explosive growth that raised the number of professional stages in the region to more than 50, the highest ever. The alliance released a memo Wednesday saying it would fold June 30, at the end of its fiscal year, a victim both of tough economic times and the theater community's success; in the struggle for funding sources, it increasingly competed with the theaters it serves, many of which needed its services less as they became ever more robust. The alliance's 25-member board voted last Thursday to shut down, according to Wednesday's statement. Bits of that news had spread in recent days, and the announcement left area producers scrambling to figure out the future status of alliance programming - particularly the annual Barrymore Awards, which recognize stage excellence here and have become a fixture on the theater community's October calendars. About 25 leaders of stage companies met Wednesday morning at the Wilma Theater on South Broad Street for an update on the future of alliance projects that include boxoffice services, an auditions program, management training aimed at newer companies, and, of course, the Barrymores. "Because this is all just happening, there's a lot of stuff to be figured out," said Terrence J. Nolen, producing artistic director of Arden Theatre Company, who was at the meeting. Nolen had been an early chairman of the alliance, when it was called the Performing Arts League at its 1990 founding. Said Kevin Glaccum, artistic head of Azuka Theatre, also at the meeting: "There had been a feeling in the [theater] community that things may not have been going very well at the alliance, so I don't think it was a huge shock. The tone is, so now what do we do next?" Action to safeguard some alliance programs has been swift. Walnut Street Theatre will take on a project that allows performers to audition for 30 or more artistic directors at one time. The Wilma will take over the alliance's ticketing system, which 10 theaters use as their box-office program. The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which represents all of the arts, will assume some membership services and an
audience development program - "both elements that seem like a close fit with what the Cultural Alliance is doing," said Tom Kaiden, its president. "We want to make sure that the good work of the alliance continues." The Theatre Alliance is running on a shoestring staff - eight people including the technicians for its box-office ticketing operation - and an annual budget of just under $1 million. The 150 member theaters contribute dues that account for only $50,000, said Margie Salvante, the alliance's executive director since 2007. She said the theaters were paying the maximum they could afford. Its funders were asking the alliance to come up with new ways to earn money, and Salvante said that, like other service organizations around the country, the group had no funds to develop new revenue streams. By continuing to find contributions, "we were left in a position of siphoning operating support away from our members - and that's what we really had to grapple with," she said. Salvante had already notified members that she was planning to resign from her $75,000 post. Alliance board chairman Wendy S. White, who is general counsel for the University of Pennsylvania, said Salvante had tendered her resignation so that the board could consider a resolution to shut down without having to consider Salvante's future. Philadelphia-area theaters now employ more than 1,000 people - actors, directors and producers; costume, sound, lighting and scenic designers; props finders; box-office personnel; development directors; marketers; and even script readers who look for new works. The region has just under 1,000 members of Actors Equity, the professional union of performers and stage managers. "We're sticking a flag in the ground and saying 'mission accomplished' here," said Rebekah Sassi, the Walnut's director of advancement, a three-time alliance board chairman, and a member of the current board. "The exceptional success of the alliance and the theater community is evident."
Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia ends its run Peter Crimmins April 11, 2012
It's curtains for the Theater Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. The nonprofit organization that helps the city's theater companies -- and stages the annual Barrymore Awards -- will discontinue operations on June 30. But it may have a second act. The Theater Alliance does many things outside of the Barrymore Awards. It offers a one-stop ticketing service, for instance, and directs audience-engagement initiatives. The plan is to farm out all of those functions to other organizations, such as the Cultural Alliance of Great Philadelphia and established theater companies. It will not dissolve its nonprofit status, but it will cease functioning and lay off its staff of eight. Executive director Margie Salvante has issued her resignation. "The board voted last Thursday to take the bold and strategic step, consistent to what theater alliances are doing nationwide, to reinvent in a world of shrinking resources," said board chair Wendy White. "The board took a step to support this extraordinary and vibrant theater industry in Philadelphia in the modern world." White says resources available for theatrical arts are better directed to theater companies rather than a stand-alone organization. The Theater Alliance is still in talks with theater and cultural organizations to negotiate how they can assume the alliance's functions.
Philadelphia Theatre Alliance folding up shop Howard Shapiro April 11, 2012
The Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia -- an umbrella organization that has served the region's stages through a period of record growth -- is dissolving. In an e-mail that will be going out Wednesday to the organization's member theaters and individual theater artists, the Alliance's board chairman writes that the board met on Thursday "and determined that the important work of the Alliance -- to engage new theatre audiences and provide support for the extraordinary work of the community -could be accomplished more efficiently and more effectively by other organizations in the community." The chairman, Wendy White, writes that she is following up on an initial message members received from Margie Salvante, Executive Director of the Theatre, which indicated changes in future of the Alliance. In Wednesday's memo, White writes that "in a time when resources for the arts are constrained, it is important for service organizations like the Theatre Alliance to ensure that available dollars are spent to best support the artistic work of the membership." She writes that the decision to fold the Alliance as of this summer was "recognizing that reality." The closing of the Alliance comes at a time when the area theater community is at its most vibrant, still growing, and a minor industry heavily supported by corporate and private donations as well as audiences willing to take risks. Metropolitan Philadelphia has 51 professional stages -- the most in its history -- and the Alliance supports them and non-professional companies as well. In addition to the annual Barrymore Awards that honor local theater artists, the most visible of the Alliance's programs, the group runs an extensive ticketing service, an auditions program, a project for building and engaging new audiences and a number of projects that have provided skills to leaders of smaller companies as they grow. Theaters sell more than as million tickets a year in the region. Theater company managers were meeting Wednesday morning at the Wilma Theater on Broad Street to attempt to chart a course for the future of the Barrymore Awards, a huge project that includes many sponsors, some who give cash prizes. The awards have come to be an October fixture for the theater community, held in the last few years at the Walnut Street Theater.
The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, which represents a panoply of arts organizations in a broad arena, is exploring taking on the Theatre Alliance's audience engagement initiative. The Alliance was looking to double the Philadelphia-area audience for theater in the next decade with marketing and other efforts. The Wilma will take over the Alliance's Tessitura Project, which is its ticketing program. The Walnut Street Theatre will run the auditions program, White wrote Wednesday morning to the members. "The process has just begun," she wrote.
Press report for May 2012 Board meeting.