Proctors Collective Furloughs Majority of Workforce Due to COVID-19 Impact

Proctors Collaborative announced Tuesday afternoon to employees that it is furloughing roughly 80 percent of its workforce and that remaining staff will 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. Proctors Collaborative recently announced it was postponing programming at all three of its venues – Proctors, Universal Preservation Hall and Capital Repertory Theatre – through April 12. Also postponed were educational offerings from the Proctors Collaborative School of the Performing Arts. With the recommendation Sunday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gatherings of 50 people or more be postponed or canceled for eight weeks, it could be mid-May or later before venues can reopen their doors for performances and classes. 

Signs of the City: Proctors in Schenectady

“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 Tuesday morning that reducing staffing levels will help keep the organization viable. “We want there to be a Proctors and a UPH and a Capital Rep whenever opening our doors becomes possible.” 

The circumstances come at a historic juncture for the organization. Proctors Collaborative just opened UPH in Saratoga Springs on February 29th 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.” 

The organization will also conduct fund-raising efforts in the interim, although not immediately. “We understand that our donor base has to take stock of their own financial situation in the coming days before we reach out.” 

Proctor’s in Schenectady might find itself hosting a pre-Broadway tryout.

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, for the time being. The May edition – celebrating a group of creatives under 40 years old – was due to go to the printer today. The issue instead will be posted online this week and content will continue to be shared on its Web site and through social media during the shutdown. The magazine, launched in February 2019, was named Magazine of the Year in the 2019 Capital Region Marcom Awards. 

Open Stage Media – a component of Proctors Collaborative – will continue to program public access television channels in Schenectady and Albany. 

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