Seattle Theatre Group, operator of the Paramount, Moore and Neptune theaters, is implementing a second wave of staff reductions that will bring its total number of employees down to 40 as of Dec. 4 — down dramatically from the couple of hundred it had employed before the pandemic hit.
The latest cuts come several months after STG reduced its staff from 207 to 61 employees in June, due to impacts from pandemic closures. With this second round of staff reductions, STG will have reduced its staff by 81%, the company said in a news release this month.
In total, after this second round of cuts, 93 staff members will have been permanently laid off, while the rest are union employees who are temporarily furloughed until work resumes.
STG’s theaters have been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with numerous shows canceled or postponed.
The staff reductions are part of a “longer-term survival plan” for the organization as theaters throughout Seattle face financial hardship due to the ongoing pandemic, STG Executive Director Josh Labelle said in a statement.
Despite these reductions, STG has maintained 60% of its education and community engagement programs, which are now primarily offered virtually, Labelle said in an interview this week. STG also continues to offer virtual shows including the upcoming “The Hip Hop Nutcracker” in December and “The Democracy! Suite,” a composition written by Wynton Marsalis as a response to the current social and political situation in the U.S., which will be offered free online.
STG says the staff reductions will allow the organization to focus its resources on certain areas including maintenance and security of the three historical theaters it operates, programming and health and safety protocols for future reopening of the theaters, fundraising, and internal work on equity, inclusion and diversity.
“Our entire sector is at risk, particularly independent arts venues and not-for-profit arts organizations and the people who have worked there,” Labelle said in the statement. “Closing theaters and music venues has been a critical part of keeping everyone safe, and while we have deep appreciation for the public funding we have received to date, we also need financial assistance to be able to reopen the doors when it is safe to do so.”