HOTB to cut programming and staff

Cartooon played at HOTB earlier this year.
Cartooon played at HOTB earlier this year.
Image courtesy In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre

Long a stalwart of the alternative theater community, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre has announced it will cut staff and programming starting in September.

It's another sign of the troubles even well-established arts organizations can face in the early 21st century, as traditional funding sources have dried up and not been replaced. Recent years have seen similar struggles at the likes of Penumbra and the Children's Theatre Company, while the community still stings from the loss of Theatre de la Jeune Lune.

See also: The smiles of May Day 2014

The 40-year-old organization is looking at a cash-flow crisis, brought on by several factors. Those include funds lost from the ending of a multi-year grant and a drop in the theater's appraised value -- which in turn forced $20,000 in refinancing for the Avalon's mortgage.

Several key programs will remain, including the Phillips Project and the annual May Day Parade. Partnerships with Open Eye Figure Theatre and the Puppeteers of America (for September's Handmade Works Festival) and La Natividad, a holiday show staged with St. Paul's Lutheran Church and the Basilica of St. Mary, will move forward. The space will also be available for rentals and other projects.

Still, Heart of the Beast is a vital component to the local theater scene, offering a mad lab of creativity, and showcasing how an arts organization can be an integral part of its neighborhood. The organization hopes to bring back programs and staffing as the cash flow improves.

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