WPCNR STAGE DOOR. By John F. Bailey. February 26. 2014:
The White Plains Performing Arts Center Board of Trustees asked the Common Council Monday evening to extend its current contract to run the City Center-based community theatre for five years to June 2019.
John Ioris, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, told WPCNR Tuesday the new theatre leadership under Jeremy Quinn, Producing Artistic Director has cut its production costs and renegotiated its contract with Actors Equity, the performers’ union. The resultant cost savings has put the 11 year old center very close to breakeven this year. Mr. Ioris did not specifiy what the current operating loss is.
Ioris said the contract that appearently will be presented for approval by the Council next Monday evening does not change the existing terms of contract. The city will still pay the utilities for the theatre, but no additional funding is being added nor is WPPAC requesting any.
Ioris said extending the contract for five years instead of the current three year contract enables potential sponsors for the WPPAC to enjoy more of a benefit to sponsoring (funding) theatre operations (4 to 5 years of exposure). Mr. Ioris said the WPPAC is seeking joint sponsors for shows and events as part of programming funding strategies.
Jeremy Quinn, the Producing Artistic Director of the theatre since 2011, told WPCNR, the 2014-2015 season plans to stage 100 to 150 events, “a healthy mix of produced and presentation events.”
He said the programming will expand to present concerts, cabaret (he is currently beginning negotionas with Below 54 a cabaret production company in New York, comedy (Gilbert Gottfried is coming up_ , in addition to 4 WPPAC produced and directed performances, that he sees being three musicals and one play. He plans a Summer Theater Festival to be staged by the Music Conservatory, now in residence at the WPPAC. (Quinn formerly was Artistic Director at the Conservatory). Quinn said there would be a Play Reading Series and a Musicals in Concert Series, and plans two fund-raising galas, in addition to other fund-raising performances.
“Art is not free,” Quinn told me. ”We have to raise the money to buy the art we love.We have gotten the cost of art under control to where we are much more realistic and affordable (to the public) All it takes is a commitment of the community to rally around it.”
He pointed to the WPPAC productions of Cats and Les Miserables, as evidence WPPAC is producing professional entertaining theatre (the show was reviewed very favorably).
Ioris said costs have been trimmed by working out a contract with Actors Equity where WPPAC is only required to have two Actors Equity members in any staged production. He said Mr. Quinn’s contacts in show business have enabled Quinn to attract artists, designers, and production and lighting personnel who are performing services for the White Plains theatre at reduced costs “to where we can produce a show for approximately $75,000.
Quinn said he is concentrating on producing works that can be staged without great expense. He noted that the attempt to produce a musical for Broadway several years ago by the original artistic director of the theater (that ran up approximately $400,000 in production costs) is a burden the WPPAC is still dealing with.
In tax year 2011, the most current filing WPPAC has on file on the Guidestar non-profit organization databank, at the end of 2011, had total revenue of $593,878 (including $478,051 programming revnue) and expenses of $714,850, for a loss of $120,972.