ITHACA, N.Y.—The Kitchen Theatre Company (KTC) announced Feb. 9 that the company will restructure mid-season, as a result of audiences not returning to moderate numbers post-pandemic.
“For theaters across the country, the post-pandemic time has brought critical challenges. The 2022-23 Kitchen Theatre Company season was strategically planned with the expectation of moderate increases in ticket sales and individual gifts,” the press release states.
Rebecca Bradshaw, producing artistic director, and Cary Bland Simpson, managing director, have led the theater since July 2021, and despite their successes artistically, the financial position of the theater remained critical following the pandemic.
With the support of the theater’s Board of Directors, the decision was made to lay off KTC’s administrative staff, including both Bradshaw and Simpson, after The Ding Dongs, scheduled for Jan. 31 through Feb. 19, completes its performances.
“This is an extreme step,” Board President Matt Carcella said. “But it will cut expenses in a way that allows us to keep the doors open while we make plans for the future. I will miss Rebecca and Cary tremendously and, on behalf of the board, I thank them for their commitment to KTC following one of the most extreme disruptions to American theatre in history.”
Effective March 1, 2023, Board Vice President and KTC actor Karl Gregory will serve as interim artistic director and the responsibilities for overseeing administration for the remainder of its season.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed sharing stories that I have loved for years with the Ithaca community,” Bradshaw said. “I’m leaving proud of the work that we’ve done and the team of curious and kind collaborators that Cary and I were able to build and build upon during our time here. Although this is unfortunate, the Kitchen is a gem and I only hope it has a bright and vibrant future ahead of it.”
“It has been an honor working with KTC’s incredible staff and artists, and an absolute privilege to work in tandem with Rebecca to create an open, communicative, and welcoming space as KTC returned to live performance,” Simpson said. “Though I am heartbroken to be leaving at such a critical time, I’m excited to see the wild and wonderful future for the theatre that Karl will build with the volunteer interim team and Board.”
Gregory said that in addition to addressing the immediate future, work must include strategizing for the sustainability of the theater.
“There is a new paradigm for live performance, and all of us at the Kitchen Theatre Company understand that we need reimagined ways of supporting theater to serve the community,” Gregory said. “We will reach out to other theater companies and groups to be part of this critical conversation, as well as subscribers, sponsors, businesses, and supporters. I am eager to be in conversation with everyone who loves live theater and has ideas.”