After four years, The Matchbox Theatre is closing its doors

After four years and more than 400 productions from plays to concerts, The Matchbox Theatre is closing its doors May 27.

Closure is set to follow the play [title of show] which is being staged by Ignition Theatre.

“The Matchbox Theatre foundation was unable to secure any municipal, provincial or federal operating support and while patronage has been healthy and supportive, the realities of running a performing arts facility without grant support are such that we are left with little option but to close,” said Cindy Ridge, president of the Matchbox Theatre Foundation.

Since its opening, the theatre has hosted a range of events, including Juno, Grammy and Tony-nominated performers from across North America.

“Four years ago we chose to take on the responsibility to provide Central Alberta audiences with cultural opportunities that may not have otherwise been available to them,” said Stephen Ridge, vice president of The Matchbox Theatre Foundation. “From Ian Tyson to Memeza Africa, International Film Festivals to those of the film program at Red Deer College, or even the incredible work of our own Ignition Theatre, we are proud to say that we exceeded our own expectations.”

Ignition Theatre, The Matchbox’s resident professional theatre company, will continue to produce through the 2011/2012 season. They are in final negotiations on a new partnership.

“It’s incredibly difficult to witness the growth in audiences, the success of our productions, the genuinely incredible feedback we’ve received – just to see it all disappear due to funding issues,” said Matt Grue, The Matchbox’s general manager.

“Not only do I believe this is a significant loss for the artists who work with The Matchbox, it’s a loss for our audiences and for the city of Red Deer.”

Meanwhile, staff at The Matchbox are still holding out hope that the theatre could remain open as they continue to reach out to the corporate community and apply for government funding.

The Matchbox Theatre Foundation will continue to operate and generate interest in the development of a future space.

“We will take some time to re-charge our batteries and then get back to work to continue to fulfill the goals we set for ourselves four years ago. We are committed to this community and to the art. This will not be the last we’re heard of.”