Palm Beach County’s cultural community was informed this week that Florida Stage has shut down its operations. On Monday morning, the South Florida theater company announced that they will file for Chapter 7bankruptcy protection.
The theater company has been well-regarded amongst the local cultural community and has been staging plays since 1987. However, like many other Florida businesses, Florida Stage has also been affected by the downturn in the economy as theatergoers and supporters of the performing arts have cut back on spending and annual contributions.
Florida Stage’s marketing director said that the company’s board made the decision to file bankruptcy during a meeting last weekend. “We couldn’t build a new audience, and we weren’t staffed enough to keep up with what needed to be done,” commented the marketing director. Although the company’s employees have been well aware of the financial troubles over the years, the employees were given no warning about Monday’s announcement.
The theater company has been struggling to make ends meet since 2008. Many Florida residents who had financially contributed to the company became victims of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The decrease in contributions and ticket sales as well as little money in reserves were cited as the biggest reasons for the bankruptcy filing. The company also has $1.5 million in outstanding debt.
In an attempt to avoid filing bankruptcy, Florida Stage moved last year from Manalapan to the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse. Although the move saved the company over $1 million in rent, the move was not enough to turn the theater company’s finances around.
If the Chapter 7 filing is approved, the company will most likely liquidate all of its assets in order to pay toward the $1.5 million debt.
The Palm Beach Post: “Florida Stage declares bankruptcy, ceases operations,” Leslie Gray Streeter, 6 June 2011