Pasadena Playhouse Update: Out of Bankruptcy, but Subscriber Communications Still Suck

By now, you’ve probably read how the Pasadena Playhouse is out of bankruptcy. There have been articles in Playbill, the Los Angeles Times, Pasadena Now, Pasadena Star News, Broadway World, and other locations. The gist of the articles is that the Playhouse is emerging from bankruptcy clear from all debts, save those to their subscribers, that there is a matching gift from two anonymous donors of $1 million, and that they are going to start back slow, with a single show in the fall.

Note the little line about their subscribers. The LA Times article mentioned the subscribers twice. The first reference was when it referred to the reorganization plan: “The plan of reorganization that U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas Donovan approved Wednesday erases all the Playhouse’s debts except the obligation eventually to provide its 2010 subscribers with seats for the number of shows they had bought.” There was also a mention at the end of the article: “Documents in the bankruptcy showed that season subscribers — about 2,600 couples or individuals — were owed about $1.2 million. Walper [the pro-bono attorney] said many of them have agreed to return their tickets as a donation, or claim just two of the plays they are owed instead of all five.”

What have the subscribers been told about this? What about the promise I received from the Executive Director’s Administrative Assistant that “There was a great deal of acknowledgment that within the past couple of years, communication with the subscribers had not been well maintained. One of our prime goals in this reorganization is to mend that…”, and that these ways would include getting “all the online media back up and running properly” and that when the large announcements would be made “both to the general public and subscribers”.

Obviously, things didn’t change.

The press release went to major media outlets… but was not emailed to subscribers. It was not posted to the Pasadena Playhouse blog nor to their Facebook page. The Pasadena Playhouse web site was not updated in parallel with the press release. I dropped a note to the aforementioned Administrative Assistant about this… but there was no response.

This morning, long after the press release went out, their main web site was updated with large font text that is difficult to read, and their news site (which doesn’t have an RSS feed) was updated with a number of links. [ETA, 2hr later: The large print text is gone, replaced by a readable copy of the press release]. There has still been no email to subscribers.

I’m trying to give the Playhouse the benefit of the doubt. However, this seems to show the priority of the Playhouse is the general media newshounds, and not their relationship with their subscribers. It will be interesting to contrast the subscriber relationship this weekend, when we go to the first show of our new subscription at the Colony Theatre in Burbank, where we’ll be seeing “Grace & Glorie”.

P.S.: I’ll note that the Los Angeles Times appears to have a bug up its arse about the Playhouse. Yesterday, whilst doing my normal news reading, I discovered a piece of how the Rubicon Theatre in Ventura (a similar theatre in reputation to the Pasadena Playhouse) is having serious financial difficulties, and their main theatre space was about to be sold to the highest bidder on the Courthouse steps. Luckily, a deal was reached, but they aren’t out of the woods yet. I forwarded this article to the LA Times… so far I haven’t seen them pick up on it.


One Reply to “Pasadena Playhouse Update: Out of Bankruptcy, but Subscriber Communications Still Suck”

  1. I just found your blog, Brigham! Very cool. I like the fact that you’ve written a lot of blog posts about the Playhouse District. I’m a long time bueissns owner here, and I think that sometimes we get upstaged by the Old Town area. I think the District has gotten a lot cooler and more walkable every year, and I’m excited for the future.By the way, does anyone know when the Pizza place next to Tender Greens (Settebello Pizza) is going to open? I can’t wait.

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