By declaring bankruptcy under Chapter 11 protection, the Shadow is seeking to free itself from massive amounts of debt and reorganize its finances.
"It provides us the opportunity to develop our funding strategies, pay our debtors and to keep afloat the proud tradition represented by this theatre," Malone said in a statement released Friday. "We have been working hard to turn things around and moving in the right direction but we were consumed by this debt.”
The move follows the company's eviction from their facility on Dayton Street in Aurora in December. Officials from Cornerstone Equity LLC, the investment company that owns the building, said the troupe had continually failed to pay its $7,500 monthly rent, even after the company had offered to cut the costs by as much as half.
The press release bears the address and phone number of the Dayton Street theater.
The Shadow ended the run of the musical "An Evening With Nina" at the neighboring Fox theater, and plans to stage a March run of "In Search of Eckstine" at the Su Teatro facility in Denver.
Representatives from the Shadow said Friday they were still looking at options for the future of the season, including the possibility of returning to Aurora with future productions.
"Shadow Theatre Company will go on. Next year is our fifteenth season and we’re preparing for it as one exciting part of how we will rise from the ashes," Shadow's creative director Hugo Jon Sayles said in the statement.
The full text of the press release follows:
Herman Malone, Board president of Shadow Theatre Company, said the company has filed for Chapter 11 Reorganization. While it was an extremely difficult decision, it was the right one, said Malone, “It provides us the opportunity to develop our funding strategies, pay our debtors and to keep afloat the proud tradition represented by this theatre.”
Shadow Theatre Company was founded by Jeffrey Nickelson in 1997 and was housed in a facility in Capital Hill. Mr. Nickelson often attested that the organization was begun “with five hundred dollars and a dream.” Since then, the company has received numerous awards for its productions including several Denver Post Ovation Awards as well as awards for the company’s productions, actors, directors and a Lifetime Achievement Award for Mr. Nickelson.
In 2007, the company moved into a new, larger facility at 1468 Dayton Street as part of the City of Aurora’s revitalization plan. Unexpectedly, however, in 2009, Jeffrey Nickelson died at age 53. Hugo Jon Sayles is the company’s current Producing Artistic Director. He was involved with the company’s founding and served in a variety of roles including associate director, director, actor, choreographer, dancer and youth program coordinator. “You can’t imagine what is was like to lose my best friend and not have time to mourn because we couldn’t delay the struggle to keep his…our dream alive during the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. We have had staff turnover, Board member turnover but through it all, I continue to be amazed by my staff, volunteers and the public who remind me why keeping Shadow alive and thriving is so important.” Sayles said, “This theatre is more than a facility and it’s even more than the people involved with us now. It represents all those writers, directors, actors, stage hands, and audiences we have served over the years who know the value of a place where people can do their art and inspire communities. We have earned the title of ‘one of the nation’s premiere African American theatre companies.”
Mr. Malone claimed that he and his Board had been making progress at restructuring the company before its difficulties with its building lease. “We have been putting a Board in place that had to step in and take action to keep Shadow going, but we inherited a $9,000 monthly lease payments (with no chance of negotiation) which had not been paid in a year and a half. We have been working hard to turn things around and moving in the right direction but we were consumed by this debt. It was We are not unlike all the other businesses out there trying to make it without incentives and bailouts.”
Sayles affirms, “Shadow Theatre Company will go on. Next year is our fifteenth season and we’re preparing for it as one exciting part of how we will rise from the ashes. Companies as ours rely on the support of those we serve. We need the audiences and we also need funders, the business community, and everyone else who understands the value of a cultural institution such as ours.”
Malone said, “There is art and then there is the business of the arts. We’re committed to making both of those things thrive. Shadow is an investment opportunity that will pay benefits to the heart and to the pocket book. Our plans will help our community to take advantage of both.”