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Va. Nonprofit Theater Out of Business

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Va. Nonprofit Theater Out of Business

Financial woes are closing Richmond's only professional nonprofit theater.

The 47-year-old TheatreVirginia said its deficit of about $500,000 shows no sign of going away, especially as support for the organization has eroded in recent years. The group is unsure how it will pay off its debts, and a bankruptcy filing is being considered.

TheatreVirginia President Theodore W. Price blamed the group's cash flow difficulties on a range of problems, from the serial sniper attacks in October to a decline in the number of large companies headquartered in the area.

Perhaps most troubling is the shrinking of the theater's subscriber base from more than 11,000 in 1990 to between 2,500 and 3,000, Price said.

The theater will close permanently after a performance Saturday night of "Beguiled Again: The Songs of Rodgers and Hart."

"After that, we'd have had about a month until the next show starts," Price told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an interview published Thursday. "We would have had to continue paying salaries and other expenses. We would have gone further and further in the red because nothing would have been coming in."

TheatreVirginia's closing leaves many unanswered questions.

"We have a lot of loose ends involving banks, which have loaned us money," Price said. "We have to work those issues out. We haven't decided on bankruptcy yet."

A number of donors earmarked gifts to support the remaining three shows on the five-show subscription season, but there is no guarantee that they'll get their money back.

"That's under discussion," Price said. "We're trying to determine what to do about those situations. There are no answers right now."

TheatreVirginia said it will not offer subscribers refunds on unused tickets.

TheatreVirginia was under a mandate to be out of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts building--its home since its 1955 inception as a community theater--by the end of next year to facilitate museum expansion and renovation.

The trustees voted last summer to send TheatreVirginia into what Price termed "hibernation" until it could move into new quarters in a vacant former department store building in 2007.

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Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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