CAT faces financial shortfall

  • Aug. 29, 2012 3:56 p.m.

Central Alberta Theatre’s business manager said while the financial woes of the company are serious, a new board is working to keep things under control.

CAT, which was formed more than 40 years ago in Red Deer, has outstanding debts of more than $700,000, according to a release.

“It’s no secret that our financial situation is serious,” said Randy Nicholls. “The first thing the new board did when taking office in July was to lay off the staff who keep the Memorial Centre going.”

In the last year or so the situation deteriorated rapidly because of major cost overruns related to remodelling the City Centre Stage plus the additional expense of running two theatres, he said, adding that the new board took over July 1 and has been scrambling to understand the situation and get it under control since.

In a recent letter to CAT’s members, the board revealed that they currently can’t afford to make all the Society’s payments. Considerable sums of money are owed to the builders, the Bank, the City Centre Stage landlord and a number of other creditors.

When put together the society has outstanding debts of over $700,000 and monthly commitments it can no longer sustain.

“In addition to the layoffs the new board has had to take several important actions,” said Nicholls. “We’re behind with the rent payments on the City Centre Stage, and as we can’t keep using something we’re not paying for, we’ve moved the new season of plays back to the Memorial Centre and CAT Studios – at least for now.”

Paolo Mancuso, CAT’s president, said to date, that’s really is CAT’s greatest challenge.

“Without the staff there is a limit to what types of visiting acts will be able to book the Memorial Centre this year,” he said. “Additionally, we can’t let anyone book use of the City Centre Stage for now.

“I’ve been involved in theatre for decades and it would be a real tragedy if we had to close CAT down; we’re very determined not to let that happen.”

Ron Vocke, CAT’s VP of public relations, said that running the season out of the Memorial Centre and adjacent CAT Studios presents its own set of challenges, but ultimately there is no other choice. The dinner theatres have also been put on hold.

“We’ve also had to switch from full dinner theatre to offering hot hors d’oeuvres before the shows instead.”

Vocke said CAT is planning a fundraising extravaganza on Sept. 8 that coincides with the first Saturday of this season’s first production.

“This is in fact the first public announcement, but we are calling it our ‘SOS’ campaign, for ‘Save our Stage.’ We will be looking for as much support as possible, as it truly is now or never.

“Hopefully we can also get a lot of support from the community to come and see our regularly scheduled shows as well,” said Vocke. “We need to fill the seats each and every show. The season opener, Greater Tuna, is a highly regarded ‘red-necked comedy’ from Texas that will have audiences in tears of laughter. Two actors play 20 different roles and it’s being directed by one of our leading lights, Judy Moody.”

Meanwhile, a retreat was held this past weekend to formulate a plan for turning the situation around, said Lawrence Hobbs, CAT’s vice president.

Greater Tuna opens Sept. 6th followed by Two-Across, My Three Angels (at Christmas), 37 Postcards, On Golden Pond and finally Gladys in Wonderland which closes the season in April. More information is available at www.centralalbertatheatre.ca while tickets may be purchased at the Black Knight Inn.

-Weber

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