Center Theatre Group has announced that their 54th season at The Ahmanson Theatre is now postponed until April 2021 when they will begin a full season of seven shows. Shows at the Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre expected to begin in the spring of 2021 and CTG, having been dark at that point for 56 weeks, anticipates $40 million in lost revenue forcing a 65% reduction in budget and expansion of staff furloughs.
Artistic Director Michael Ritchie announced Center Theatre Group’s 54th season at the Ahmanson Theatre, previously referred to as the 2020 – 2021 season, will begin later than originally announced. Productions of “The Lehman Trilogy,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” “Les Misérables” and “Hadestown” are no longer available in their previously announced dates. These productions, along with a to be announced production, were set to begin the season, meaning that the 54th season will now begin with Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on April 29, 2021.
In addition, the engagements of returning musicals “Come From Away” and “Ain’t Too Proud” have been shortened to two weeks each to accommodate other markets. When performances resume in April 2021, Center Theatre Group’s three stages—the Ahmanson, Mark Taper Forum and Kirk Douglas Theatre—will have been dark for more than 56 weeks. While “Slave Play” has been announced for the upcoming season at the Taper, the timing of that production and the remainder of the Taper and Douglas seasons have not yet been announced, and we expect that they will also resume in spring 2021.
This unprecedented dark period is a direct effect of the prolonged safety and health concerns arising from COVID-19 and is expected to result in losses of approximately $40 million in ticket revenue across the three venues. These cancellations have necessitated a severe 65% cut in Center Theatre Group’s operating budget over the upcoming fiscal year. Center Theatre Group has launched an Emergency Fund to help carry the organization through this period as it must now rely more heavily on contributed income. The drastic cut in revenue will also require an expansion of previously enacted staff furloughs, regrettably pushing the return date of furloughed staff to 2021 and expanding the number of full-time employees on furlough from 50% to 60% of pre-pandemic staffing.
During this dark period on stage, however, the organization’s education and community programming has shifted online. From digital courses focused on emerging theatre professionals to educator training and ongoing community artistic partnerships, Center Theatre Group will be able to serve thousands of students, artists and adult learners throughout this period, both locally and national through digital channels.
“It is with great sadness that we have reached a point where it is simply impossible for us to envision safely returning to the Ahmanson, Taper and Douglas until spring of next year,” said Ritchie. “Since we first announced our closure during the initial wave of the pandemic, we have been tirelessly working through every possible scenario for reopening, all the while ensuring that the health and safety of our audiences, artists and staff were our top priority. Ultimately, it became clear to us, and to many touring productions scheduled to play the Ahmanson, that there is no way to be certain that such safety could exist earlier than next year. I could never have imagined such an extended period where Los Angeles would be without the ability to gather as a community and experience the transformative power of theatre. This is painful not only to hundreds of our staff members and artists, but also to the tens of thousands of Angelenos we proudly serve each year, both from our stages and throughout our communities. We are continuing to find hope and inspiration in our online programs, which include virtual education initiatives and our Art Goes On Project, with more to come. I am confident that we can return safely to the stage with this new schedule and, should health officials become more optimistic about a safe timeline to resume large gatherings, we will work as quickly and safely as possible to return to the stage sooner.”
Center Theatre Group launched the Art Goes On: Emergency Giving Fund as a direct result of the sustained financial impact of COVID-19. Members of the organization’s Board of Directors have agreed to match all donations up to $500,000 with a deadline of June 30, 2020. Donations can be made at CenterTheatreGroup.org/EmergencyGiving.
Center Theatre Group, one of the nation’s preeminent arts and cultural organizations, is Los Angeles’ leading nonprofit theatre company, which, under the leadership of Artistic Director Michael Ritchie, Managing Director Meghan Pressman and Producing Director Douglas C. Baker, programs seasons at the 736-seat Mark Taper Forum and 1600 to 2100-seat Ahmanson Theatre at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles, and the 317-seat Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City. In addition to presenting and producing the broadest range of theatrical entertainment in the country, Center Theatre Group is one of the nation’s leading producers of ambitious new works through commissions and world premiere productions and a leader in interactive community engagement and education programs that reach across generations, demographics and circumstance to serve Los Angeles.
Center Theatre Group is still committed to presenting a seven-show subscription season. At this time, there is nothing further current subscribers need to do to maintain their subscription for the upcoming 54th Season. Subscribers with questions may contact email@example.com or call (213) 972-4444 for more information. For more information and to purchase a subscription by phone, call the exclusive subscription hotline at (213) 972-4444. To purchase season subscriptions online, visit www.CenterTheatreGroup.org/Ahmanson. Groups of 10 or more may reserve tickets by calling (213) 972-7231. General on-sale dates for individual productions will be announced at a later date.