The now-defunct San Jose Repertory Theatre.

The San Jose Repertory Theatre closed its curtain for good last month, citing financial woes. The closure of the 34-year-old company has prompted some soul-searching in Silicon Valley over local support for arts organizations. We discuss the future of the arts in the South Bay.

Kerry Adams-Hapner, director of cultural affairs for the City of San Jose
Robert Kelley, founder and artistic director of TheatreWorks, a theatre based in Palo Alto and Mountain View
Mike Ryan, artistic director of Santa Cruz Shakespeare who recently performed in "Game On" at San Jose Repertory Theater

  • sstanley

    Having been a Rep subscriber for 19 yrs. I am deeply saddened by this event. Theater explores our humanity, and connects us to the unfamiliar. We cannot live on tech alone…hello….. Apple, Facebook and Google!!! How about supporting the arts for the sake of the drama and music in all of us? I fear we are on a slippery slope.

  • The Bay Area has a vibrant Youth Theatre culture, putting on
    very high quality shows, and generally with a lower ticket price—thanks at
    least in part to the ability to have parent volunteers fill in for many of the
    crew positions. One example- Peninsula Youth Theatre in
    Mountain View (which shares “Home Company” billing with TheatreWorks at the
    beautiful Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts) has been bringing
    professional quality musicals to the stage for 20 years—PYT’s designers (lighting,
    sets, etc) and directors are all top notch professionals in the industry, and
    many of their young performers have gone on to successful careers in the
    arts. PYT has been the first to bring many Broadway favorites to
    the Mtn View Center (the largest performing arts center on the

    Theatre goers should give PYT and the many other high
    quality youth theatre groups in the region a look, not just because their
    neighbors kid is in the ensemble, but because this is a great way to see top-notch
    theatre at a lower cost, and to support the future of the

  • Another Mike

    This is not new: The Civic Light Opera went bankrupt in 2008 after a seventy-plus year run, even though they maintained a policy of showing Broadway’s greatest hits.

    But why should theater in the tenth largest city in America rely on charitable donations? I could see it in an out-of-the-way company town, or for a less popular art form, like ballet, but why more-or-less mainstream theater?

    • sstanley

      It’s not “Charity”….it’s support and promotion. Have you seen the donor list for NPR?

    • archphoenix

      I’ve never known a theatre company, big or small, to live solely off of ticket sales. The fact is that ticket sales for any theatre company generally cover 30% – 50% of their annual budget. The biggest expenditure is generally rent and utilities, not salary, or artistic expenditure. (I work in theatre and have worked at theaters with varying budgets and in various parts of the US and this is pretty much a universal truth.) Fundraising is a key component of any arts organizations business model, be in theatre, ballet, opera, or museums. And in terms of donations, individual donors comprise about 70% of charitable donations in the United States, not grants or corporations. See the most recent numbers from Forbes:

  • Darshana Nadkarni

    Feel blessed to live in Bay area with excellent theater companies. I share & promote live theater with my reviews for @citylights @theatreworksSV @sanjosestage @MagicTheatre @ShadyShakes at . Appreciate feedback.

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