Center Stage to cut 2 jobs, take additional actions

January 21, 2009|By Mary Carole McCauley | Mary Carole McCauley,mary.mccauley@baltsun.com

In an effort to stem a projected $300,000 budget shortfall, Center Stage will eliminate two jobs and the troupe's two top administrators will work for four weeks without pay - the latest of several local arts organizations pinched by the economic downturn.

In addition, four department heads will take two weeks of unpaid leave before the fiscal year ends June 30.

"Our revenues have been soft for the last several months," Debbie Chinn, Center Stage's managing director, said Tuesday. "We have gone through our budget line by line, and trimmed costs every single place we could find."

Center Stage has an annual budget of about $7.5 million and 36 full-time employees.

"We went through as many cuts as we could that didn't affect people. The artistic director, Irene Lewis, and I felt strongly that we couldn't ask the staff to make sacrifices that she and I weren't prepared to make ourselves," she said.

The cutbacks were announced Friday. The two employees whose positions are being eliminated will continue to work until March.

Chinn emphasized that Center Stage remains on sound financial footing. Though its endowment has shrunk from $20 million in June 2007 to $13 million, the troupe is paying its bills. No productions are being canceled. The number of Center Stage subscribers - 11,000 - has not shrunk, although those patrons are buying more discounted tickets.

"In these volatile economic times, if you don't take care of a $300,000 shortfall, before you know it, it's $600,000," Chinn said.

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