Saturday night's "10 x 10" performance -- 10 plays, 10 minutes, 10 bucks -- sold out. But artistic director Emily Ranii appealed to the audience for donations to keep theater at the ArtsCenter going.
I wondered if that might be a story, so I asked Ranii if her program was on the chopping block. She referred me to executive director Jon Wilner, who recently announced his resignation but is staying on until a new director is found.
We've reported the struggles arts programs are having in the recession. Wilner said there was no new story, just the same story. "There is no imminent plan to cancel anything," he said. "The ArtsCenter has to find a way to increase its revenue or cut its expenses."
The agency went from a $1.6 million budget to a $1.4 million budget last year and expects to do with another $100,000 less this year. Wilner doesn't want to see programs that make money -- any money -- cut. But the annual 10-minute plays are an exception. They are the most popular theater the ArtsCenter stages all year. Other works attract far smalller audiences.
Inside Saturday night's program was a slip of paper. Ranii asked us to write what having theater at the ArtsCenter means to us. I didn't fill mine out, but if keeping theater going means getting to see more from three-time "10 x 10" veteran Eric Swenson, I'd be willing to pay more.
In a cast of standouts, Swenson was funny, riveting, adorable. He went from manic in a hilarious Mamet/Dr. Seuss mashup to impish as a talking heart flummoxed by a beautiful girl. Worth my 10 bucks, when the ArtsCenter needs all the bucks it can get.