by CATHY POLLOCK, A&E Feature Writer
Recent financial distress for Cascades Theatrical Company (CTC) has led to unexpected regeneration for the 35-year old Bend community theatre. Originally called Community Theater of the Cascades, CTC began in 1978 with an all-volunteer staff and no home for their productions. The company moved around town, performing at the Kenwood School, Rosie Bareis and others. In the early ‘80s, the troupe moved into an old auto garage, now called the Greenwood Playhouse, located at 148 NW Greenwood, finally paying off the mortgage on the building last year.
Today, CTC is at a crossroads, forced to rethink their business model in order to survive. Over the years, the company brought on three paid staff members-theatre manager, light and sound tech and box office manager. Many factors contributed to the current financial struggles of CTC, including the economy tanking in 2007 and its lasting effects.
In the past, the CTC board turned to its members (now over 200 strong) for help, and was able to regain their footing. This year, faced with hardship once again, the board hesitated to repeat the plea, and instead quietly discussed what to do with the prospect of diminishing funds. The idea of selling the theatre was discussed which would have generated immediate income, but force CTC to move into a five-eight year lease, followed by the inevitability of searching out another location. This idea was unacceptable to many CTC members.
With no other proposals forthcoming, the general membership was informed of the financial crisis and new volunteer help poured in. While three board members resigned, four new people stepped up to the plate to serve. And they are recruiting more. “We now have six board members, but we can have up to 15,” Keith Clinton, current vice chair says. “The difficulties have reenergized CTC and Bend’s theatre-loving community.” For now, Clinton says the company will go “back to the future,” meaning a return to an all-volunteer staff to assure the prosperity of the community theatre in years to come. CTC is emulating other community theatres’ successful volunteer management model along with others to keep CTC growing in a positive direction.
The summer theatre highlights at CTC will include Bend Theater for Young People classes and performances from July 1-26 and in August enjoy ‘Sneak Peeks,’ or snippets of the seasons’ upcoming productions with comedies and mysteries at the core of the selection. September 13, The Dixie Swim Club will kick off the 2013-2014 season.