The ten-year-old Austin Playhouse led by the Toner family has launched a blog to involve its many supporters in the story of its move from rented space near St. Edward's University to a specially-built facility with two theatres at the Mueller complex off Airport Road. The company is promising a full season for 2011-2012 (The Lion in Winter, Boeing Boeing, Man of La Mancha, A Room with a View and Born Yesterday). The company has vigorously promoted season ticket sales, despite the uncertainty about the completion date for its new theatres, probably in early 2012. They expect to announce performance dates in the next few weeks.
Here are extracts from the first extensive posting at the new Austin Playhouse blog:
This summer has been full of fundraising meetings, planning meetings, architect meetings, and more fundraising meetings. In the midst of all the meeting madness we thought it would be fun to remember how we got here and exactly why we're doing this.
Austin Playhouse was founded by Don Toner and members of the Artistic Company in 1999. We’ve come a long way from our first season, where we were invited to perform Light up the Sky, Mahalia, and The Fantasticks at Concordia University. Our second season we produced four plays in various venues around town including Arcadia at Hyde Park Theatre, Blues in the Night at a downtown nightclub, and The Man Who Came to Dinner and The Seagull at McCallum High School. [ . . .]
During our years at Penn Field we enjoyed a strong growth of our audience base, but we also experienced skyrocketing rental rates. We started our stay at Penn Field paying roughly $5,000 a month. By 2010 the rate was $12,000 per month. Our growth as a company was severely limited by this monthly burden. Additionally, after a few seasons we found ourselves quickly cramped in the small space, without room for costumes, props, offices, rehearsal or scene building space. We also wanted to offer our amazing patrons a world-class facility and that simply was not possible at Penn Field. [. . . .]
The Austin Playhouse company has renovated warehouses and old movie theatres, but we’ve never had a brand new facility built just for theatre. We found a beautiful location in Northwest Austin along Spicewood Springs Road and began drawing plans and initiating a fundraising campaign. [. . .] Unfortunately, in the course of performing due diligence on the site it became clear that the land would not be able to support a theatre and adequate parking.
So the search continued as the rent continued to rise...