Monday, July 16, 2012

Money Runs Out; Studio Roanoke Closing

Melora Kordos (from left), writer Ben Williams, Founder Kenley Smith
I just got the note from artistic director Melora Kordos that Studio Roanoke is closing. This has been one of the true bright lights in the history of Roanoke theater and its closing will leave a hole in the continuing effort to bring new and younger people into the theatrical sphere.

The theater, founded by Kenley Smith in Downtown Roanoke just a couple of years ago, brought fresh new plans and talent into a market that was becoming increasingly broad and sophisticated for theater. I am pained by this, but I certainly understand the struggle to keep any of the arts alive in an age when the Republican government counts anything educational and cultural as a drain on personal budgets. It's a damn shame.

Let me offer a modest suggestion (from Christina Koomen): The Taubman Museum has a very nice auditorium that is used by Roanoke Children's Theatre and could invite those affiliated with Studio Roanoke to continue presenting their unusual fare there. There wouldn't be a lot of money to be made, but this would get people into the Taubman and would create lot of good will in the community.

Here's Maria's note:

Dear Friends,

It is with a heavy heart that I am announcing the closing of Studio Roanoke. Since its opening, it has brought over 30 new plays to Roanoke, showcasing some of the most exciting new writers from around the country and here in our own town. It has filled a much needed niche not just in Roanoke, but in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

And it is because of this that it truly breaks my heart to see it come to an end. Unfortunately, a number of reasons have coalesced to make this decision a reality. It is not unknown that the small size of our venue made it very difficult to financially sustain ourselves on ticket sales alone and we have been greatly dependent on grants and donations to keep our doors open.

While the 2012/2013 season was looking more promising,(the largest amount of grant money awarded to the theatre to date) our private donations had tapered off to an all-time low and other circumstances beyond our control, (the selling of the building we currently are housed in) have made moving into this next season financially impossible.

We will be raising funds to pay off our current debt with a sale of the theater's items that include tech items, lumber, tools, furnishings used in our plays, costumes, props, theatre seats, office furniture, artwork, books, office supplies and just about everything else in our space. We will offer the items for sale in the theater, 30 Campbell Ave., SW on July 28 & 29 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days.

On a personal note, my time with Studio Roanoke has brought so many talented, extraordinary people into my life that I will hold them dear to me forever. And I hope that someone will be able to pick up where Studio Roanoke left off letting the Phoenix of new play production rise from the ashes.

-Melora Kordos, Artistic Director

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