The Actors Theatre building is across the street from the KFC Yum center. Until recently, there was little outward indication of what was inside. But that’s changed. Using $450,000 in grants and donations, Actors Theatre has renovated its lobby and refurbished the building’s façade, adding new signs and banners along Main Street.
“We needed to seize upon the opportunity with the thousands of people who are down here for events at the KFC Yum Center, not to mention the almost 70,000 people who work down here to build awareness amongst them,” says managing director Jennifer Bielstein.
The renovations come at a time when funding for the arts is shakier than ever. Mayor Greg Fischer recently told arts groups to prepare a Plan B in case city grants are cut next year. But an increase in ticket sales won’t make up for a loss of city funds.
“We need both, though. We actually, really, we need both,” says Bielstein. “Our ticket sales cover, barely, half of our expenses.”
Actors Theatre has cut its costs significantly since the recession began.
“I’ve been here almost five years. And when I first came here and then ongoing, have compared our operating budget to other places that I’ve worked, our peer theaters’ operating budget and Actors Theatre produces twice as many productions for the same amount of money, so we stretch our dollars really far,” she says.
The cuts have included changes to the season and staff, as well as the addition of co-productions—plays performed in coordination with other theater companies.