Tip of the Hat to Isaac for bringing to our attention--by way of tech-mesiter Mike Lawler's blog--a saddening story that broke over the weekend.
In short: massive layoffs at New York Theatre Workshop. Essentially, their entire senior production staff.
Lawler has the inside story from one of the downsized. Let him tell the story:
The entire production staff of New York Theatre Workshop will be eliminated as of May 30th, 2008. Reason for our dismissal-Board mandated a 1 million dollar reduction to the operating budget so of course who goes first? Production. Season will consist of 3 main-stage productions and an ancillary program of musicals to follow the model of the Encore series basically a bare stage and many performers remounting off-Broadway musicals. So of course production can be handled by either seasonal hires or show by show hires. People have lost their livelihood through no fault of their own and the shortsighted planning of people who really don’t understand what it is production does...Hey, remember what I said recently about that "Encores" model? Don't say I didn't warn you all...
(We might have suspected something was up when NYTW announced that idea just 8 weeks ago.)
Lawler estimates the savings for NYTW from these dismissed staffers at $280,000. "I wonder what the AD and MD are earning?" he asks. Funny, I just reported that some days ago.
Also funny/pathetic is the observation that the company's plans for a multi-million dollar new tech facility (also reported here last year) go on full speed ahead, regardless:
What may be most confusing about all of this is NYTW’s seemingly unabated plans to build new scene and costume shop facilities according to LEED standards that were to be up and running sometime next year. What’s the point of having such facilities if there is no production manager, no technical director, and no costume shop manager? “The ground breaking ceremony for our LEED certified scenic/costume shop is slated for May 14th, though now there is no staff to run it,” Casselli [soon to be ex-NYTW production manager] said.Above mentioned Michael Casselli is Lawler's source, and today he provides an "open letter" from him as well.
It is sad that an institution like the Workshop has devolved in such a way. I am angry, sad and more than a little bitter at the treatment the whole of production has been put through. What is even more enraging is that none of the individuals responsible for making this decision were present at our termination - Artistic Director Jim Nicola, Managing Director Billy Russo and Heather Randall. These were the people who, according to their messengers, were responsible for this decision.I'm aware I'm linking to the words of an understandably upset and angry employee. But tell me if this whole scenario doesn't sound eerily familiar (or even prophetic) of what's to come in our nonprofit theatres--even our "moneyed" ones.