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California Community Theatres - Losing Performance or Rehearsal Space

There are many circumstances that might cause a theatre or group to lose their performance or rehearsal space, or other facility. Even when a theatre mainstay seems to have itself anchored in the community for the long run, as times change, so can a town. As theatre groups expand, so do their needs. Without a permanent home, theatres face the possibility of location loss on a regular basis. I was curious about the experience of losing a theatre space and how groups came out on the other side. Check out the results from a survey and an interview with a theatre who has seen it happen and lived to tell the tale.

From our survey: As far as your knowledge, has your theatre company lost its facility/space/location due to the termination or end of a lease, or for another reason? (theatre facility can mean performing space, offices, rehearsal space, warehouse, etc)

Bob Eisele of Lamplighters in La Mesa, shared that his theatre has been through a location/facility loss. Commercial Real Estate agents helped Lamplighters find their next home, and Bob credits the Board of Directors as key players involved with this experience.

Some theatres may not have been through a change of location yet, but are aware of the possibility on the horizon. They are looking into rentals and also keeping in contact with commercial real estate agents.

"(Commercial real estate agents) know what we need (we're always looking for better space)."

"At this time we are unsure if we will have space for our shows for the 2017 season. We are starting to look into rentals."

It Happened to Us - Mary Kay Switzer of A Repertory Theatre in Banning

Talks About Losing Its Space

"We love our new arrangement. We can even store our props and sets at the church. The vicar comes from a family who has always supported and been a part of community theatre in Texas."

-Mary Kay Switzer of A Repertory Theatre

Before this past Spring, A Repertory Theatre (ART) was performing at a resort space, which was owned and operated by a group with several resorts in various countries. The owners decided to use the space occupied by ART for conferences.

You mentioned that vicar of a church invited you to use the church facilities. was ART already part of the church location?

No, we were not part of the church location. However, the church had invited us to tour our plays to their meeting hall where they have a stage area. We did this to help them raise money for various charities. so we had a good relationship with them prior to loss of resort facilities.

Did ART propose the church facilities to the vicar as a chance to use them, or did he offer them when he became aware of the situation?

When we got news of the change--and the resort staff were very nice to us and were sorry to see us go, but the main office aboard had made the decision--we told the vicar who offered the church facilities to us instead. The resort sent us many departing gifts.

What is the current 'set up' of the church use now? Does ART hold a lease with the church?

No lease. Just work out schedule for use. We agree on schedule and go ahead with productions for various causes.

What was the timeline from the loss of the original space until art was able to begin using the current church facility?

We started immediately. Church gives us space and helps to market our production free of charge.

How did this experience change the long-term plans or way of thinking of long-term plans for your theatre?

It hasn't changed our mission. It has always been to do plays as fundraisers for various worthwhile causes.

A Special Thanks to Mary Kay Switzer of A Repertory Theatre

Above: Photos from A Repertory Theatre's latest production, "The Last Romance", performing in their current theatre home, in the church meeting hall.

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