Friday, December 15, 2006

Colorado Festival of World Theatre

Rumors have been flying ever since the Colorado Festival of World Theatre released executive director John Sheehan in September. Last night the festival organizers clarified the festival's situation - in a rather amazing way.

It's even more amazing considering the facts as September: Though the 2006 festival had sold 30 percent more tickets and cost $500,000 less than the 2005 festival, it had nevertheless run a deficit. The board had voted to suspend operations immediately.

I'll have the full story in the Gazette next week, but in brief the current situation is this:
  • There will be a festival in 2007, roughly equal in size to the 2006 festival.
  • The festival will take place Sept. 20-30, two months later than this year's festival.
  • The theme will be musical theater. The festival will feature the first American performance of "Truth in Translation" — a new South African musical by Michael Lessac and Hugh Masekela — the Ravinia production of Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park with George" (probably), and other works.
  • The festival will partner with local and regional organizations: Colorado College, TheatreWorks, the Fine Arts Center, the Manitou Art Theater, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
The partnerships enable the CFWT to concentrate its resources on bringing in world-class productions without having to keep a technical staff on hand. The local organizations also benefit, according to TheatreWorks artistic director Murray Ross and Colorado College drama professor Tom Lindblade. "We get a little money, which is something we always need," said Ross; Lindblade spoke about the educational opportunities, including ways that the festival could be incorporated into the college's curriculum.

At a reception last night honoring festival supporters, both Lindblade and Ross opined that this was the direction they had hoped the CFWT would take from the very beginning. As Lindblade put it, when Suzy Bassani — the festival's artistic director and producer — approached him about a collaboration, "my first word was 'yes.'"

The new festival structure may result in that rarest of occurences: A win-win-win situation, one that benefits the festival, the partnering organizations, and the community. (Though I am still broken-hearted that the fabulously gifted Sheehan is gone. Not only was he a great ambassador for the festival, he was just a lot of fun to talk with.)

Stay tuned for the full season schedule, which will be released April 4.


Blogger atomicelroy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Mariana Wagner said...

Thanks Mark! I love the arts, and am constantly amazed at how art-friendly Colorado Springs is! I am not much of a "paper-reader" -more of a blog-reader, so I am looking forward to reading more of your posts. Thanks again!

8:53 PM  
Blogger Mark Arnest said...

Curse you, Atomic Elroy - removing your snarky comment before I could make my even snarkier reply!

7:08 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

this sounds more like putting a graceful face on a failed festival.

9:55 AM  
Blogger atomicelroy said...

mark arnest,
the internet is all about speed, dahlink!

but I will say...
I've worked in the arts long enough to remember when the Arts were not intended or expected to be financially viable. They would fund raise monies to offset the lack of public ticket sales. Arts orgs. had development departments that were effective in philanthropy and grant writing. So a Festival like the CFTW ( which was artistically brilliant last season) didn't need to pander to exist.
But I totally understand what it's like to piss away large amounts of cash in the name of the arts.

2:17 PM  

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