Central Oregon’s first professional theatre closes after four years

Innovation Theatre Works in Bend has ceased operations.

Innovation Theatre Works in Bend.
Innovation Theatre Works.

Based in Bend, where it performed at the Tower Theatre downtown and its own converted space on SW Division, ITW was founded by Chris Rennolds and Brad Hills.

ITW’s first production, DRIVING MISS DAISY by Alfred Uhry, drew capacity crowds to the Tower and was very well done. Unfortunately the company’s timing was such that it burst onto the scene right as the worst financial crisis since the 1930’s hit the US in September 2008. ITW initially intended to do a full season of plays, but over the years its programming yielded to the financial and audience realities of the area.

In a statement posted on Facebook, Artistic Director Brad Hills said:

“We know we have many friends out there, but we have come to the conclusion that there are simply not enough of you who value what we have tried to do to build financial security in the long term. The lack of response to our recent Matching Challenge Donation along with ever dwindling audience size for all of our programs is the no longer deniable proof of that. Nationwide, non-profit theatrical organizations depend on at least 50% of their revenue coming from donations, sponsorships and grants and we have been surviving on an average of roughly 15-20%, an unsustainable figure especially when coupled with less than 50% of capacity audience sizes. Therefore, before our debts mount any higher, we have decided that closing our doors is the most prudent course of action.”

ITW closed down a few weeks ago.