the show goes on

Venerable Houston theater company rehires entire furloughed staff

Venerable Houston theater company rehires entire furloughed staff

Alley Theatre Christmas Carol: David Rainey
Government funding means the Alley can rehire staff and plan for beloved shows such as A Christmas Carol Photo by Lynn Lane

The news dropped like a bombshell in the Houston arts scene: On March 20, due to COVID-19, the Alley Theatre announced that it was temporarily laying off 75 percent of its staff and asking the remainder who make more than $50,000 per year to take a pay cut, in addition to cancelling the rest of its 2019-2020 season.

But, as the adage goes, the show must go on. And thanks to the recent CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), in the Alley’s sake, it will. The venerable theater company announced that with government assistance, it can continue its operations.

The funding also means the Alley can now re-hire temporarily laid off employees, according to a press release. And in some more good news, the temporarily laid off employees will also receive back pay from March 30, the date they were temporarily laid off, to present.

“We are thrilled that Congress enacted this employment law to help nonprofits and small businesses, allowing us to bring back our employees and make them whole,” said Dean Gladden, managing director, in a statement. “This is a very difficult time in our country and our hearts go out to all those that have lost their jobs at this time. We can’t wait for life to return to normal when we’ll welcome everyone back to Houston’s theater, the Alley Theatre.”

Though the company is celebrating the much-needed assistance, it’s not completely a happy ending to this story. The Alley reports that it still has a shortfall, and has thus created a $6.5 million Lights Up Campaign to address its lost revenue, sunk expenses, and ongoing operating costs.

With that in mind, the theater is asking patrons and fans to consider contributing to the Lights Up Campaign or subscribing to the recently announced 2020-21 season. Patrons can donate online or subscribe to the new season.