Updated 11/16/09 @ 10:10 a.m. with a response from Devon staff; Updated 11/16/09 @ 1:42 p.m. with a response from the Mayfair CDC
“I, too, am shocked and utterly heartbroken to hear the news. I was not made aware that such a huge portion of our funding was in jeopardy until very, very recently, and I did not think the solution to the funding evaporation would be so severe,” said associate artistic director Kim Reilly. “Sadly, it doesn’t have anything to do with the great work going on at The Devon on the stage and behind the scenes.” [Update]
The sudden call came a day after an energetic opening night of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in front of a near capacity crowd, but just a month after founding artistic director Michael Pickering resigned without public explanation. The “Joseph” show is not in jeopardy and will continue, Reilly said.
In an e-mail to season ticket holders and other supporters, the Mayfair-based theater’s staff expressed its apologies for canceling Forever Plaid, Boys & Dinettes and Noises Off. The decision was based on the state budget, the e-mail said, which includes a significant cut to community development-related organizations. The grant which had previously allocated money to The Devon for performance and operating costs has been eliminated [Update].
The Mayfair CDC, which owns and operates the Devon, would not disclose how much expected funding didn’t come through, said CDC Executive Director Brian Patrick King. The note was sent out to subscribers immediately after they learned their funding was cut.
“We wanted to be very transparent,” King said.
“Due to this unexpected loss in funding, the Devon Theater has been forced with a heavy heart to regretfully,” the e-mail read, cancel the rest of its inaugural season. Several NEast Philly readers forwarded the e-mail to our editors. If you have a tip, contact us here.
The funding that was cut was only for in-house theatrical productions. The theater’s popular education component and its use a rented venue for concerts and other events will continue, Reilly said.
“This economy has made a lot of people rethink their business models,” added King, who did say that he hopes theatre will return to the Devon in the future. [Update 2]
The e-mail announcement read as follows: This decision was not easy, but was one that was necessary to ensure that the Devon Theater remains an open viable venue for arts and culture in the region. We would also like to emphasize that this decision does not affect any other facets of the Devon other than the above mentioned show productions. The Devon Theater will continue to operate showcasing music, art, film, private functions, corporate affairs, and comedies.” The letter continues, with information about how season ticket holders with the Main Stage Season Subscription Series can redeem their purchases: For those who hold Season Subscriptions, currently the only way for you to recover your season ticket cost has just been implemented. For each season ticket that you hold, you will be able to use your remaining credit for 4 additional tickets to our current production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We urge you to order these seats quickly while there is availability for the dates you would like to come see the show again or bring additional friends/family. Theater tickets also make a great gift.” “It’s unbelievably disappointing to have this happen after investing so much time and energy,” said Reilly, who replaced Pickering after his resignation in October. “But I am doing my best to remain positive and devise ways to keep theatre alive and well at The Devon.”
The Devon staff was unavailable for comment when we reached out, and there is currently no announcement of the cancellations on the Web site.
Staff writer Christopher Wink contributed to this report.