GREENSBORO—The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival suspends its operations. Officials say they're facing extreme financial challenges and after 35 years in the community, they need to close to reduce expenses. The arts community is shocked by the news.
“North Carolina Shakespeare Festival is the signature arts, performing arts, in High Point, it has been for years,” High Point Convention and Visitors Bureau President/CEO Tim Mabe said.
But that arts group released Thursday, it will cease operations.
In a statement, officials said, "The Board of NCShakes has unfortunately determined that NCShakes' financial circumstances require a suspension of operations and a substantial reductions of expenses."
“I'm jolted. And just hope that we can get it going back real soon,” Mabe said.
It's news that's rocking the arts community.
“I think a lot of people see us as competition among each other but really we're all connected," Triad Stage Managing Director Richard Whittington said. "To see an organization that has had a 35 year history of serving this community through the arts, to see them cease operations I think is a sad day for the entire arts community."
And while Whittington says he's saddened by the news, he points out it's been a tough few years for the arts.
“And we all tightened our belts, we all tried to make it through," Whittington said. "But in order to get through that recession, we had to take on debt. It has constantly been a challenge.”
A challenging situation, that for many was beginning to look up. Several arts groups including Triad Stage, met and exceeded their fund raising goals this year. But he said, they still need the community's support.
“As a whole, our community need to make a decision,” Whittington said, “And to really put the resources behind the arts community or today's announcement by the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival won't be the only one.”
NC Shakes employs 13 full-time and six part-time employees.