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Beloved Palm Beach theater files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

The 24-year-old Florida Stage has recently announced that it has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after accruing nearly $1.5 million of debt. Although everyone has been hit fairly hard in this economic downturn, the theater faced a series of unfortunate events that left it out of money. The theater company was in such trouble that it couldn't refund theatergoers for previously purchased tickets to upcoming shows.

The Florida Stage moved from its long-time home to a new location about one year ago. The theater company though the move would be able to save it some money, but it actually drove the company into bankruptcy quicker. It is unclear, however, whether staying in its current location would have been able to stem the quickly declining local theater.

Granted, many of the expenses that arose were not something the company could have predicted. For example, the theater discovered it needed to replace all the risers and seats at the new location. The expected $300,000 to $400,000 savings in rent and repairs approximately covered the costs for the risers and the seats.

The usual patrons of the theater were also reluctant to go to the new location. The theater had catered to older adults who lived closer to Boca Raton, but the new move put the company further from their normal customers. The new location also had inadequate parking and was quite far from any restaurants. The elderly customers also did not appreciate how cold the new theater was.

Nor was the theater able to cater to a younger crowd. Most of the younger audiences hadn't heard of the productions Florida Stage typically put on. The company also had no money to specifically target a younger clientele.

There was also huge drop in subscriptions to the theater company. In its last season in its old location, the company had 6,000 subscriptions. For the 2011-2012 season, the company could only sell 2,000 subscriptions.

Source: Palm Beach Daily News, "Florida Stage: Why the curtain fell, an analysis," Jan Sjostrom, 25 June 2011

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