The CenterStage dinner theater and its affiliated Ella’s Supper Club restaurant will close down Aug. 21, barring a financial miracle.
Managing artistic director Tim Behrens said the CenterStage board of directors has already voted to initiate “closeout procedures.” The board will hold another meeting Monday at 6:15 p.m. at the theater, 1017 W. First Ave. in Spokane, to make plans for an “orderly closeout” and also to discuss options for the organization’s future.
The problem: lack of money. Behrens said expenses have outpaced income for quite a while and the board sees no way of turning it around.
Ella’s, a restaurant/jazz club, has been a well-received nightspot. The dinner theater has had three hit shows but struggled with a number of others.
Yet CenterStage needed more than hits. Since it opened in 2003, this nonprofit arts organization’s business plan has always called for raising more than $300,000 through donations in its first three years to supplement its earned income.
“We were hopeful the community would respond to the tune of $10,000 or $12,000 per month,” said Behrens. “That didn’t happen.”
He said the building, the old Odd Fellows Hall, is labor intensive, as are the productions. He said a lease dispute with the landlords, Odd Girls LLC, didn’t help matters.
Behrens emphasized that all weddings and receptions booked into the building will be guaranteed through September. The board will also try to find a way to honor those booked for later.
In fact, Behrens still holds out some hope for the survival of CenterStage, possibly in a different form.
“The options are way, way open for the future,” he said.
But to prevent a shutdown on Aug. 21, it will take money and plenty of it. Behrens said CenterStage is about $50,000 in the hole.
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