Theater leaders discuss Perseverance’s finances and future

Money’s in the bank, and bills are being paid, manging director said.

Perseverance Theatre has money in the bank, is paying its bills and productions are coming in under budget, said the theater’s managing director Frank Delaney.

After a presentation to the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce, Delaney and development director Ben Brown spoke about the theater’s financial present as well as some future plans. Artistic director Leslie Ishii also spoke during the presentation.

“We’re still in recovery mode, but we’re in a much better place than we were before,” Delaney said in an interview.

In June 2018, Perseverance Theatre furloughed employees because of “six-figure debt” before ultimately being bailed out by donations.

During the presentation, Brown said the theater’s annual budget is $1.3 million, which he said is down from about budgets of $1.8 million and even $2 million in the recent past.

[Read live coverage of the luncheon presentation]

“The budget reduction is directly related to the smaller season,” Delaney said.

This year, Perseverance Theatre’s schedule includes four productions in Juneau and four in Anchorage. In the past, there have been as many as six productions.

After addressing the chamber, the theater leaders were asked by the status of the building on Douglas Island in which plays are performed.

Ishii said the theater places technological constraints on productions, and Delaney detailed some of the building’s physical problems, which include a convoluted climate control system that’s made up of three heating systems —two of which work — and flooding.

“We have ADA compliance issues with the building,” Delaney said. “We’re working to solve those. I’m speaking very frankly right now because if anyone has solutions to those problems, I’d love to hear the solutions.”

They were also asked about how the theater could potentially cater to summer tourists.

In recent years, summers have meant downtime for the theater aside from its annual Summer Theater Arts Rendezvous children’s program. However, in past decades, the theater entertained tourists with “The Lady Lou Revue,” which Brown said longtime Juneauites will remember.

Brown said a pilot program is being developed with help from a $2,000 Holland American grant that would bring a Perseverance Theatre production to downtown Juneau during the busy tourist season.

“It just makes no sense not to serve that audience and generate revenue,” Brown said.

Delaney said a summer show would likely need to be scaled down to about 30-45 minutes and be something that highlights what makes Alaska unique.

He said more concrete details, including where such a show would take place has been decided.

The creative future of Perseverance Theatre was also addressed during the luncheon. On the immediate horizon is the play “Silent Sky,” which opens Friday and runs through Feb. 2.

Perseverance Theatre sets its eyes to the ‘Sky’]

Next year’s schedule was also discussed, and Ishii said it’s still being determined.

She said she would like to hear input from the community regarding the sorts of shows that people would like to see.

“We’re in the midst of season planning,” Ishii said. “We’d love to hear from you, let us know.”

• Contact reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BenHohenstatt

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