Company Update: The impact of COVID-19 on ART

by | May 21, 2020 | COVID19, News

Dear Artists Rep Community,

Since March 2020, we have been in unprecedented times. Global uncertainty due to the pandemic and the constant re-assessment of the future have been overwhelming to experience, but it has also been heartening to see Artists Rep’s team of staff, board, and artists work together in response. Due to the uncertainty of a vaccine release for COVID-19—and as we are not able to project a clear end to social distancing requirements—we are all but certain that theatres will be among the last activities to restore to pre-pandemic conditions. Unfortunately, in order to ensure the organization survives this tumultuous time, we have had to make some decisions that will drastically impact members of our ART community and the way we pursue our mission. 

We estimate that we have lost over $450,000 in revenue since March for the current fiscal year (ending June 30). Although we are able to retain our entire staff through the next month utilizing a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan, we have now had to take the heartbreaking step of laying off 15 staff members effective June 28. The remaining staff will see roles and responsibilities re-assigned in a broad restructuring plan. Additionally, some positions will experience a reduction in hours. This reduction takes ART from a total staff equivalent to 24.5 Full-Time employees to 9.8. 

While we are preparing for multiple timelines for a return to traditional productions (i.e., fully produced plays, performed LIVE in a theatre several times a week over the course of 4-6 weeks), our productions will inevitably be reduced in number and scope—even as we plan new projects that can be experienced in nontraditional ways. In any scenario, our projected income is highly unpredictable, and we must reduce our budget by nearly 50%, or in excess of $1.5 million. Cutting programming is a devastating loss to the artists of the Portland community who would have been hired as actors, designers, directors, playwrights, and members of production teams.  

However, even in this dark moment there is light. We are able to use PPP loan funds (until June 30) to hire artists to CREATE work that we will share virtually or in person at a future date, and our play development and education programs can expand in the year ahead. We will continue to work with artists and ideas that inspire. We will find new ways to share stories and community safely. We will innovate. We will survive. We will remain Artists Rep.

Sincerely, 

Dámaso & JS 

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