The Arkansas Repertory Theatre in downtown Little Rock has suspended its operations amid financial difficulties, it announced on Tuesday afternoon.
The theater's Board of Directors said in a news release that the final production of the 2017-18 season, "God of Carnage," will not be completed.
"The inability to reach its projected goals for charitable giving and ticket sales, and the change in the theatre landscape in Little Rock have created a perfect financial storm for The Rep," Board Chair Brian Bush said. "The Rep's ticket sales have been on a downhill slope for several years. Our community is on the verge of losing an amazing arts organization and a tremendous asset to our city."
In a separate letter to supporters, Bush and Board Chair-Elect Ruth Shepherd wrote that The Rep faced "significant cash flow problems" and that recent years "have been particularly difficult."
"We've experienced steadily declining ticket sales, capital needs on our buildings, and increasing competition for entertainment dollars," they wrote.
The letter closed with a plea for donations, noting the theater needs "$750,000 immediately" in addition to a "capital needs campaign to begin to build a future."
Bush said closing The Rep will have a "devastating" impact on the redevelopment of Little Rock's Main Street.
The Rep's producing artistic director, John Miller-Stephany, is stepping down May 8, along with most other staff, according to the release. The theatre said it will suspend all operations upon completion of its Education at the Rep summer program on Aug. 3.
The future of the theater is under board evaluation. Shepherd will lead a committee to "fundraise for and conceptualize a reimagined Arkansas Repertory Theatre," the news release said.
“It was devastating to vote to suspend operations and cancel the final show of our season, but we just don’t have the money right now,” Shepherd said. “Continuing to produce at the level in which Arkansas audiences have come to expect from The Rep would have put us more in debt."
Read Wednesday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.