Artists Repertory Theatre Forges Ahead With Renovation Amid Temporary Season Suspension

“This stage is a core and shell, with many additional internal features and utilities, and an external mural.”

"American Fast" at Artists Repertory Theatre (SHAWNTE SI MS)

Last month, Artists Repertory Theatre said it was temporarily suspending its 2023-24 season of plays. Then, the situation became bleaker when, in an email to patrons reported by The Oregonian, managing director Aiyana Cunningham stated that “without a significant strategic shift or influx of cash,” ART was projected to run out of money to fund its basic operations in October.

Still, life goes on at the theater company. ART’s renovation is still happening, and communications and marketing director Leslie Crandell Dawes today confirmed that, thanks to fundraising efforts, the organization no longer faces the threat of an October closure.

Addressing the renovation of ART’s main venue on Southwest Morrison Street, Cunningham said the the current stage of construction will be completed in November as planned, though at least $5 million will be required to complete the entire project.

“This stage is a core and shell, with many additional internal features and utilities, and an external mural,” Cunningham said. “The funds raised to date for the capital project are dedicated for this use and fully cover the cost of this stage.” (Several artists are in the running to design the mural.)

That said, the company still faces significant challenges. ART legend J.S. May, the organization’s former executive director and current capital campaign director, is now working at reduced capacity. And several staff members have been laid off.

That includes director of new works Luan Schooler, whose name has long been synonymous with ART (she joined in 2015). Cunningham called the layoffs a “heart-wrenching move.”

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