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Arts groups priced out of venues

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January 29, 2008

Albany -- The curtain may come down on performances by some young actors in Albany. The Albany Junior Theater and some other non-profit arts associations, say they can no longer afford to put on performances because it's too expensive to rent auditoriums in Albany.

This is the Albany Junior Theatre production of Annie. a non profit group that allows South Georgia kids to sing, act, and dance on stage at no charge. But now the group is on hold, because they can't afford the rent at any venue to put on a show in Albany.

 Albany Junior Theatre Artistic Director Alicia Croxton said "the prices have almost tripled, and we just can't up our budget that much."

In June Albany Junior Theatre says they rented Darton College's auditorium for six days for $1300. Croxton said two months later the College quoted her a price of $5000. She checked with other venues with a stage and curtain they could use for a performance, like the Albany Municipal Auditorium or civic center , and found it would cost more than $6000 for rent, and payroll of city employees.

 Croxton said "I was flabbergasted by the cost, especially when you consider that these entities get tax payer money, and frankly the theater is just sitting there."

Croxton said her group is just one of many Albany non profits that have had to drop shows or events because they can't afford rate hikes for theatre rental in Albany.

Croxton said "everyone and every arts organization that I have spoken with about this problem, we are all in the same boat. We are reeling from these new rates."

So these child performers are looking for a new home to put on their next production, worried that rate increases for venues may kill the arts.

Croxton said "they are doing something creative, and educational, and it's a wonderful thing for Albany."

The Albany Junior Theatre officials say they are looking to join with other arts groups to possibly renovate an old building into a theatre, so that this free opportunity for children to perform does not go silent.

Darton College told us Tuesday afternoon they do not have a record of a formal request from Albany's Junior Theatre to rent their theatre building, and their last rate hike was in August 2007.

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