FARMINGTON — The foundation whose mission for more than two decades was to bring top Broadway shows like "Man of La Mancha," "Cats" and "Annie" to the Four Corners has dissolved.
Bev Taylor, a founding member of the Farmington Civic Center Foundation for the Performing Arts, confirmed the nonprofit organization's demise on Thursday.
"Because of (the) high expense of top Broadway shows, declining attendance and a still-struggling economy that's still bad, that made it impossible to continue," Taylor said. "Times are tough, and our people are not willing to accept a real elevation in ticket expense. We've had to settle for lesser shows, but when we can't fill a house, increased costs and dwindling support from foundation members, you have to face it that it's done."
A rise in alternate entertainment in the area — primarily casinos and other venues that host their own productions — have negatively affected ticket sales for performances, she said.
The foundation has not hosted a season of elaborate traveling theater productions at the Civic Center since 2012.
"When we started, there was nothing here, which is why a foundation was set up, so we could promote cultural activities to the benefit of the public," Taylor said. "It was live musical theater, to bring Broadway shows to Farmington. As a board, we'd put a season together, doing four or five shows a year, but they were costing upwards of $50,000 each. To try to keep your ticket prices low, it was hard."
Civic Center Supervisor Lisa Hutchens served as a liaison to the foundation, helping coordinate productions the foundation booked.
"The last two shows didn't fill half the seats," Hutchens said, explaining the theater seats 1,200 people. "It's unfortunate they've dissolved because it leaves a hole."
In its heyday, the foundation hosted popular shows at the Civic Center's Miriam M. Taylor Theater — named after Bev Taylor's mother-in-law, a cultural arts enthusiast. Shows included "Big River," "Fiddler on the Roof" and "Oklahoma!" But in recent years, the foundation has had to settle for fewer productions, always hosting them on weekdays because traveling shows book bigger city venues on weekends.
"We didn't have a season last year. We didn't have the heart to cut the strings. We were hoping the economy would turn around," Taylor said.
Founded in 1988, the foundation has hosted an average of four to five Broadway-style theater productions most years.
Taylor said the remaining 11 foundation board members have yet to formally decide what to do with the organization's remaining funds. She would not disclose how much money is left.
"We've all cried and been sad about this, but at the end of the day it's just the reality," Taylor said. "We hope that our foundation members don't feel that we've deserted them. We just didn't see a way to continue."
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.