This story was originally published by ArtsATL.
The Atlanta Lyric Theatre has closed its doors after 42 years under the weight of financial strain. The theater’s home page and social media platforms made the announcement on March 7, citing “a significant drop in overall attendance in the wake of the pandemic.” Remaining shows of the 42nd season — including “Pippin,” “The Best of Broadway” and the Cabaret series — have been cancelled.
According to a website announcement from board co-chairs Monica Gwinn and Patti Schoettler, “Despite our best efforts, we have arrived at the point where we must face facts: our financial resources are not sufficient to finish the current season, or embark on the next, which would have been our 43rd. Consequently, the Board has voted to dissolve the organization.”
Galen Crawley, who starred in several productions at the Lyric, including “My Fair Lady” and “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” is mourning the theater’s closing.
“I’m gutted at the loss of the Atlanta Lyric,” she said in a text message. “Not only for myself and the other artists who work there, but for the audiences who followed the theater from venue to venue through its long history. It’s heartbreaking that the board would vote to dissolve instead of mounting a capital campaign or signaling, in some way, that they needed help.”
Jono Davis, artistic director at Jennie T. Anderson Theatre, echoed similar sentiments.
“Completely heartbroken by this news. I’ve performed with the Lyric as an actor more than any other theater in town, and I’ve considered it a home for more than a decade,” he says. “They’ve had an incredible ride, and I’m so proud of the people who kept it flying for 42 amazing years. The Lyric performed nearly 50 musicals on the Anderson Theatre stage — some of the best theater I have ever seen.”
The Jennie T. Anderson Theatre collaborated with Atlanta Lyric Theatre on drive-ins, festivals, drive-thrus and concerts.
“While their closing doesn’t affect our concert series or Cobb’s programming, it is still a warning that theater is not safe, even as we navigate this pandemic,” Davis adds. “Audience attendance is still low around town, and some theaters are surviving one show at a time. I think the best we can hope is for people to continue supporting their local theater companies as best they can. Business, organizations and local governments can do the same by partnering and sponsoring productions. I think it’s going to take a village to get us back on track, and any amount of support can go a long way. We need to support art, or else we’re going to lose art.”
Benjamin Carr contributed to this story.
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