Announces it has repurchased the Theatre from TD Bank

The Philadelphia Theatre Company announced today that it has repurchased the iconic Suzanne Roberts Theatre from TD Bank, thanks in large part to a spirited community effort led by the Roberts family that raised over $3 million and enabled PTC to reclaim its longtime home, which is the final piece to its remarkable fiscal and artistic turnaround.

The repurchase was completed at a price of $5 million, allowing PTC to shed the original $11 million mortgage debt that by June 2014 had triggered TD Bank’s foreclosure on the venue and threatened the organization’s ability to survive.  By contrast, the re-purchase – the balance of which was funded by a $2 million loan from the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) – stabilizes PTC’s finances and furthers the vitality of the Avenue of the Arts as a creative and economic engine for the city.  At the same time, it also allows PTC to continue to fund the exciting expansion of artistic and programming options that have been the hallmarks of a turnaround effort led by Michael Kaiser, the nation’s foremost arts management expert and the former head of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Today’s announcement is a testament to what can be accomplished when the community rallies around one of its premier arts organizations,” said Kaiser, who heads the DeVos Institute for Arts Management at the University of Maryland and has served as a consultant to PTC since last year, when the Suzanne and Ralph Roberts Foundation donated $2.5 million to fund a reorganization of PTC.

“The turnaround of PTC has been ongoing for more than a year, and there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the organization’s future,” Kaiser said.  “But there is no question that the biggest single challenge for PTC was to regain control of the theater that it calls home, and today, thanks to the tremendous support of the local community, PIDC, and with the help of TD Bank, we have successfully repurchased the venue.”

“This is a remarkable partnership,” said PTC Executive Producing Director Sara Garonzik, “one that is led by the tremendous continuing support of the Roberts family, who have long supported the Theatre Company and remain our largest private donors.  We owe them and all of our donors a debt of thanks, as well as PIDC and of course TD Bank, which has worked in partnership with us to achieve today’s outcome.”

Suzanne Roberts said the repurchase is key to PTC’s future.  “I am so pleased that this unique artistic and creative organization now has its home back permanently,” she said.  “Completion of this remarkable turnaround through the re-purchase of the Theatre building creates a terrific foundation for PTC’s future growth.”

Key to the repurchase is the PIDC loan, offered at a market rate of 6.25 percent, which must be repaid in full over the next five years. “We view the revival of the Philadelphia Theatre Company as an important economic development story for the city and particularly for the future of the Avenue of the Arts,” said PIDC President John Grady.  “From our perspective, the success of the fundraising campaign makes this a very favorable transaction for us as the lender and for PTC.  Based on the success of PTC’s turnaround thus far, we are confident that the loan will be repaid.”

“The repurchase could not have happened without PIDC’s support,” said Kaiser.  “They recognized the importance of PTC to the arts community and to the Avenue of the Arts, and they provided the financing that helped to close the deal.

Kaiser also cited the cooperation of TD Bank in negotiations for the repurchase.  “From the start, the Bank has been an active partner in working to structure a transaction that would allow PTC to regain ownership of the venue and address the financial challenges that confronted it. The Bank deserves a great deal of credit.”

The repurchase is the latest step in the ongoing turnaround of the 41-year-old PTC, which has enjoyed a resurgence in ticket sales and critical acclaim for its expanded artistic and programming options, including the popular new Theatre Masters program of Monday evening interviews with stars of the theater world, including veteran Broadway performer Billy Porter, actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, and coming soon, veteran actor (and Philadelphia resident) David Morse and film and Broadway star Kathleen Turner.

These and other “surprises” are the hallmarks of Kaiser’s turnaround plan, which focuses on increasing earned and contributed revenues by identifying exciting new and different entertainment options for audiences as a way to build a base of ticket and patron support.

“The financial obligations of the building had put us in a position where we were focused solely on reducing programmatic expenses,” said Garonzik.

With the help of the 2014 Roberts grant of $2.5 million, plus $700,000 in funding from the William Penn Foundation over the last two years, PTC gained “the breathing room” necessary to reduce its operating debt (its long-term accounts payable have been cut by nearly 70

percent in the last year) so that it could focus instead on developing distinctive programming and marketing it to Philadelphia audiences.  The turnaround has been dramatic: Less than 16 months after losing the theater to foreclosure, PTC recorded an operating surplus in excess of $400,000 for the fiscal year ending August 31, 2015.

“The new support provided by the community will now be invested for growth, new programming, including our award-winning education program, and investing in PTC’s exciting future,” said Priscilla M. Luce, PTC’s Executive Managing Director. “Regaining ownership of the Theatre means we can control what happens there, and that allows us to better plan PTC’s performance season and work with our community partners who also use the theatre.”

“The turnaround is by no means complete,” said Garonzik.  “It’s an ongoing process, but it’s clear that the community has gotten behind the Philadelphia Theatre Company, and it’s very gratifying.”

Philadelphia Theatre Company opens its 2015-2016 season with the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Disgraced by Ayad Akhtar, running October 9-November 8.  The season continues with  the McCarter Theater/Arena Stage production of Ken Ludwig’s Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery (November 27 – December 27); the East Coast premiere of Exit Strategy, a new play by rising Chicago playwright Ike Holter, co-produced with Off-Broadway’s Primary Stages (January 29 – February 28); Sex with Strangers by Laura Eason, a co-production with George Street Playhouse (April 8 – May 8); and  the East Coast premiere of Hillary and Clinton by Lucas Hnath (May 27 – June 26).

Founded in 1974, Philadelphia Theatre Company is a leading regional theatre company that produces, develops and presents entertaining and imaginative contemporary theatre focused on the American experience.  By developing new work through commissions, readings and workshops, PTC generates a national impact and reaches broad regional audiences.  Under the guidance of PTC’s Executive Producing Director, Sara Garonzik, since 1982 and Executive Managing Director Priscilla M. Luce, who joined the leadership team in early April of 2013, PTC supports the work of a growing body of diverse dramatists and takes pride in being a home to many nationally recognized artists who have participated in more than 140 world and Philadelphia premieres.  PTC has received 57 Barrymore Awards and 180 nominations.  PTC’s home on the Avenue of the Arts, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre which opened in October 2007, has helped revitalize of Center City Philadelphia’s thriving arts district.

For further information, please call 215-735-7356.