jakub | October 12, 2023

AMERICAN THEATRE | Dell’Arte International Faces Closure


BLUE LAKE, CALIF.: The Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre has announced plans to lay off the majority of its staff, citing critical cash flow issues. While a small group of staff members will be working at greatly reduced hours to continue offering classes and workshops to the local community, as well as maintaining their commitment to the Prison Arts Program, the company’s future is uncertain. Dell’Arte also plans to cancel its annual holiday show unless enough funds are donated to sponsor a production.

In a press release circulated last week, the company reported that, like countless other U.S. theatres, “Dell’Arte has suffered terrible financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent loss of support, major national and state-wide changes in philanthropy and funding and significantly reduced audiences.”

The company has launched a Save Dell’Arte campaign with the hopes of raising $125,000 by the end of 2023, so that Dell’Arte may survive and thrive into its 50th year and beyond. Libby Maynard, outgoing Dell’Arte board chair and co-founder and executive director emerita of the Ink People Center for the Arts, has seeded the Save Dell’Arte campaign with $5,000.

“Live theatre is fast becoming an endangered species, and it’s my heartfelt wish to play some part in its recovery,” said Maynard in a statement. “My health does not currently permit me to play an active role in that recovery, but I am able to put money towards it. So this is my challenge to the community: Help us raise at least $125,000 by the end of the year to keep the lights on and the doors open as the organization builds towards a more sustainable future.”

Donations can be made online here, by phone at (707) 668-5663, and by mail to P.O. Box 816, Blue Lake, C.A., 95525. Please note that the company is operating with limited office hours.

“Dell’Arte is not a fixed entity with a timestamp in renaissance Italy (or 1970s California),” said head of training Tony Fuemmeler in a statement. “Dell’Arte has been evolving from the beginning. It is meant to evolve. We must be awake. Over the coming decade, humanity (and Humboldt County) will be navigating unforeseen evolutions in the ways humans strive, encounter conflicts, and ultimately find meaning in our participation in the world. Humans need a story in which to locate themselves in, and tools for finding its expression. The need for Dell’Arte as a dynamic, ongoing destination for research, training and performance through the undeniable lens of the body in space remains as potent and vibrant as ever.”

Dell’Arte International is a nonprofit North American center for theatre training, research, and performance of the actor-creator. DAI consists of an international touring ensemble; the Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre; and an annual summer theatre and performing arts festival. Dell’Arte seeks to explore ensemble-based physical theatremaking, practice, and training for ourselves, the world, and the future. As of 2021, DAI had an approximate budget of $1.3 million.

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