- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 25, 2018

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A Little Rock theater has suspended its productions indefinitely.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s board of directors announced the decision Tuesday. Financial issues forced the theater to cancel its final production and cease future planning.

“This has been one of the saddest days of my life, when we had to talk to staff today and say we’re going to suspend operations,” said Ruth Shepherd, chairwoman-elect of The Rep.

Board Chairman Brian Bush said a decline in ticket sales and an increase in theater options around the city contributed to the shuttering.

“The Rep, like lots of arts organizations, struggles, but for 42 years we’ve been able to overcome whatever difficulties we might face,” Bush said. “Today, we find ourselves with really a cash crisis. We just don’t have the cash on hand to complete the season, so the board made a very difficult decision to suspend production and not complete the season.”

But theater officials hope to eventually bring back the theater. Bush said the theater hopes to fundraise $750,000 to ensure financial stability for The Rep when it returns.

Bush said the board has assembled a committee with Shepherd at its head that’s working to raise the money and revamping the theater for the future.

The committee is expected to come up with a working plan by early August to present to patrons, donors and lenders.

Shepherd said she hopes the community “will step up and help us, now, through this challenging time.”

The theater will still host the Artworks auction on April 28 and Ballet Arkansas from May 4-6. It’ll issue a refund for any tickets purchased, but not yet redeemed, including single tickets, season subscriptions and flex passes.

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