Featured photo: Triad Stage during the day (photo by Sayaka Matsuoka)

On Tuesday morning, the board of directors for Triad Stage in Greensboro announced that the 20-plus-year theater organization was closing its doors.

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In a press release, the board stated that “the operation of Triad Stage is unsustainable” and that they had “determined that the only responsible option remaining is to liquidate our assets and dissolve the organization.”

In mid-April, Triad City Beat and other news outlets reported that the theater company, which was founded in 2002, was facing financial difficulties. At the time, Triad Stage leadership had announced that they would be halting operations for the time being and canceling their upcoming production of The Cake. Now, almost two months later, the company is closing for good.

“We are devastated by this outcome,” said Board Co-Chair Cassandra Williams in the release. “Triad Stage has been key to revitalizing downtown Greensboro and an artistic refuge for writers, performers, and theatergoers. For 20 years this organization entertained audiences, premiered new work, and introduced schoolchildren to the experience of live theater. We should never lose sight of the good work that has been done here, and we will deeply miss our role in Greensboro’s arts community.”

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Preston Lane

While it’s true that Triad Stage played an important role within the city’s arts community and the downtown area for the last two decades, the organization hasn’t been without its share of controversy.

As first reported by TCB, one of the co-founders of Triad Stage, Preston Lane, was accused of sexual assault in 2020. Lane was artistic director at Triad Stage at the time. Lane ultimately ended up resigning from the organization and then, three full-time employees were laid off. Shortly afterwards, the board closed the organization completely.

However, in the article from April, Executive Director Kate Holland said that the main issues facing Triad Stage were lack of finances. Holland said she couldn’t comment on the Preston Lane case.

“Certainly resulting from the pandemic, certainly resulting from the shutdowns from pandemic, but also losing the founders over the last few years really affected how people felt about donating to us,” Holland said in April.

After Lane’s departure in 2020 and the theater’s subsequent closing, Triad Stage underwent an intense restructuring and rethinking of the organization’s culture. In 2022, the arts organization reopened after spending the prior two years engaged in intensive diversity and equity training, as reported by TCB.

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At the time, Artistic Director Sarah Hankins told TCB that the overall process was “exhausting” but that she was “hopeful” for the future.

Tuesday’s press release acknowledges the organization’s shift in culture stating that they “made significant changes to its operating model, including a shift in artistic focus to include newer productions and more diverse storytelling, as well as a reduced operating budget. It also disposed of its offsite scene shop as part of the effort to address its longstanding deficit.”

The release added that “by the time the pandemic forced its closure in 2020, the theater was carrying an accumulated deficit of $1.5 million.”

While the board and staff hoped to open in 2023, their revenue projections fell short “with houses averaging less than half full over the course of the first two mainstage productions.” The decrease in revenue plus the costs of production as well as the downsizing of staff, is what ultimately led to the company’s closure, the release states.

In the next few weeks, Triad Stage will be disposing of its remaining assets and resolving liabilities. The ticket office will remain open to support the Eastern Musical Festival through its 2023 season. Ticket holders will be contacted directly regarding outstanding ticket credits.

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“Triad Stage has assets valued considerably in excess of its liabilities and, although the liquidation process will require some patience, it is the organization’s intention and expectation to satisfy liabilities to ticket holders and other creditors in full,” the release states.

In April, the organization hosted a warehouse sale that was scheduled for multiple days, but due to overwhelming popularity, only lasted one afternoon. At the time, Executive Director Holland said the sale wasn’t related to the company’s financial troubles.

“We were planning to clean out the warehouse this summer regardless of the situation,” she said. “It’s just the timing seems to relate to the pause in operations.”

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