December 13, 2019
 
Last Curtain at Boston Children’s Theatre as It Files for Bankruptcy

November 29, 2019 — Boston Children’s Theatre, a Boston-based nonprofit founded in 1951 to engage children in theatrical performances at professional standards, ceased operations after filing for bankruptcy on Wednesday after several tumultuous weeks during which its executive artistic director resigned, followed by board resignations and the departure of its executive director.

A "dire financial situation" led Boston Children’s Theatre (BCT) to file for bankruptcy protection in federal court, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

James Solomon, BCT's interim president, in a letter to students and parents, wrote, that “we hoped to provide” refunds and urged parents to contact the organization by Dec. 3, or else submit a request to bankruptcy court, according to The Globe.

He added, “We are sadly left with no choice but to file for bankruptcy while we investigate the factors that led to our dire financial situation," according to the report.

For the year ending Sept. 30, 2016, BCT reported $66,900 in assets and $270,000 in liabilities, according to its most recently available federal tax filing. Its last financial statement filed with the Massachusetts attorney general's office was for the year ending Sept. 30, 2015.

Here's what happened in recent weeks:
  • In early November, BCT hired a law firm to investigate accusations of inappropriate behavior by Burgess Clark, who served as its executive artistic director from 2008 until he resigned at the end of last month. More than a dozen former BCT students have made allegations against Burgess Clark of "inappropriate behavior," The Boston Globe reported.

  • The board engaged an outside specialist to review its internal policies, including hiring, supervision of students.

  • A number of directors reportedly resigned, leaving only three on the board ”“ Solomon, James Reginald Colimon, and Elin Schran. Three years ago, BCT had 17 board members.

  • BCT suspended the planned production of “A Charlie Brown Christmas," which was to be presented next month.

  • Executive Director Toby Schine stepped down, a decision made in mutual agreement with the board. No one was named to fill his role on an interim or permanent basis.
When Schine's departure was announced, the board issued a statement, saying, "We simply do not have the staff or funding to support the quality of performance for which our company is known, and we owe our children nothing less. Unfortunately, in light of recent events, our focus as an organization must be rebuilding," WBUR reported.

The organization's website notes that 2020 winter class are "on hold during restructuring" and that BCT is "dreaming of a bright future."

BCT, one of the oldest children’s theatrical organizations in the country, traces its origin to 1920 when the “Community Services of Boston Inc.” was formed for “the promotion of a better and more healthful community toward men in the military and naval service of the United States.” In 1933, the corporate purposes changed to emphasize “the education of children and grown-up people in the most profitable use of their leisure time.” BCT adopted its current name in 1974.

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