Performing Arts Festival Suspends 2005 Season

(CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Shaker Mountain Performing Arts Festival in Pittsfield, MA is shutting down operations for at least one year to restructure its administration, with hopes of reopening in 2006, reports the Berkshire Eagle.

According to founding artistic director Denes Striny, the 2004 season was the first time the festival operated at a loss — a deficit of $41,000 on a budget of $475,000. He told the paper he attributed the festival's problems to a breakdown of the organization's administrative structure.

"Ticket sales were up 170 percent, but it wasn't enough," Striny said. "We accomplished artistically 100 percent of what we could have done, given our budget. The problem was there was no administrative structure. We'd been dealing with part-time administration for three years. That changed this year. All I could deal with was to get the artistic side up there as best as I could. Administratively, things slipped through the cracks. We also ran into a lot of resistance from places I hadn't anticipated."

In acknowledging the risk of shutting down for a season, Striny admitted, "It was a far-reaching decision. With all the administrative problems, I became incredibly beaten down. There were too many jobs for me to do. I had decided to close altogether. Since then, a few people have come forward and it's given me hope. If things work out, we would have an executive director and a general manager for 2006. We also are trying to organize some grant proposals and go into 2006 with a positive attitude."

The festival is staged at the Robert Boland Theater at Berkshire Community College. — Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

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