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SCHENECTADY – Proctors Collaborative employees learned this afternoon that roughly 80 percent of its workforce would be furloughed and the remaining staff would receive pay reductions.
The decision is the result of careful analysis of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting the organization in the near- and long-term, according to a Proctors Collaborative statement.
“It’s an extraordinary time with daily new and revising understandings about the virus and about its implications on what we, in the performing arts, do: share, connect, celebrate, embrace,” said Philip Morris, CEO. “It’s incredibly painful but for the near future, what we do must simply stop for the good of our whole community and by extension the country.”
Morris told employees this morning reducing staffing levels keeps the organization viable. “We want there to be a Proctors and a UPH and a Capital Rep whenever opening our doors becomes possible.”
Last week, Proctors postponed programming at all three of its venues – Proctors, Universal Preservation Hall and Capital Repertory Theatre – through April 12. That included educational offerings from the Proctors Collaborative School of the Performing Arts. Days later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that gatherings of 50 people or more should be postponed or canceled for eight weeks, pushing the charge into mid-May or later.
The circumstances come at a historic juncture for the organization. Proctors Collaborative just opened UPH in Saratoga Springs on Feb. 29, and is planning to open a new Albany home for theREP in July. “In the context of what looked like a bright and prosperous future, the virus impacted us at a most vulnerable time,” Morris told employees. “You should all be proud of your efforts to that end. Now we have to try to keep it afloat enough with a very few to be able to make a comeback whenever we can.”
Patrons are being encouraged to hold on to their tickets for postponed performances and to subscribe to the 2020-21 seasons at Proctors and theREP. “We need to ensure we have full houses as soon as we reopen our doors,” Morris emphasized. “That support will accelerate our recovery.”
Most remaining employees will work from home per recommendations from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Proctors Collaborative facilities will be closed to the public but the box office will be available by phone weekdays; reduced customer service hours will be announced soon.
Proctors Collaborative is also shelving the print edition of The Collaborative, its regional monthly arts magazine. The magazine, launched in February 2019, was named Magazine of the Year in the 2019 Capital Region Marcom Awards.
Michael Hallisey is managing editor of Spotlight Newspapers.