by Sam Hieb
The High Point Enterprise reports has “suspended operations, citing extreme financial challenges.” As a result, the September production of Macbeth has been cancelled.
Not really sure what’s up here; artistic director Pedro Silva is keeping quite for now, adding “additional information will be forthcoming at a later date.” Obviously finances are an issue; the HPE cites the loss of $200k in state funding, but HP resident Jim Millis ponied up $1.5 million to be distributed over two years, with the option for a third year:
The money Millis gave in 2011 was specifically targeted to improve fundraising, marketing and public relations. In July 2011, Wil Elder, from Tennessee, was hired to lead those efforts as the festival’s first president and CEO. Soon after, the staff of three was increased to 15, and numbers since have fluctuated only slightly.
Elder, almost immediately after taking the job, began getting to know the community, and he seemed to attend every community function. He and the additional staff appear to have been successful.
Figures recently released to NCSF patrons show that during Elder’s first full fiscal year on the job, giving increased 35 percent, from $117,705 in 2011-12 to $158,520 in 2012-13. In total, giving from 2010-11 through 2012-13 increased 93 percent, from $82,285 in 2010-11 to $158,520 in 2012-13.
In addition, attendance for productions at the High Point Theatre increased from 19,250 in 2010 to 22,565 in 2012.
Signs of problems began to crop up on July 23, when Elder was asked by the board to step down.
As the HPE notes, the Shakespeare Festival “has scraped by financially almost since its first season in 1977.” It’s a big deal in High Point, so it’s hard to imagine someone won’t step in and save it.