DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council heard from Stage Door Players Managing Director Debbie Fuse about plans to diversify theatre operations to adjust to realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the Sept. 29 council meeting, Fuse detailed the devastation.
“In March of 2020, we were running on target to have a very good year with a net positive (cash reserve) of $8,682, and as of September 1, we had a net loss of $41,119,” Fuse said. “Stage Door Players has been closed since March 17.”
Fuse said the decision by the board to furlough Artistic Director Robert Egizio was “because there were no productions being held at the theatre.”
The decision has created a rift in the community, with some patrons decrying the layoff as unwarranted, and others feeling that Egizio was slow to implement alternatives that would have created much-needed income.
Because the board has determined in-person productions would not be safe for at least six months, Fuse said, the organization has explored other options for income. The list includes holding outdoor performances, engaging with other non-profits to stage productions and forming partnerships with the Dunwoody High School theatre group.
Councilwoman Pam Tallmadge asked Fuse if she knew whether Egizio would be receptive to returning to his post when performances resume. Fuse said Egizio has been in discussions with the board and she was not privy to that information.
Tallmadge inquired about reports that the locks to the theatre had been changed, and she asked why Egizio’s voice was no longer on the theatre’s answering machine Fuse declined to answer the questions.
“I would prefer having discussions of this kind to be offline and not in a public forum,” Fuse said.
Tallmadge remarked that during the 2008 recession, Egizio was not furloughed, and he worked without a salary for several months.
Fuse thanked the city for reducing Stage Door’s rent for the remainder of the year. The council took no action on the report, which is given routinely on an annual basis.
In other action at the Sept. 29 meeting, Ann Hanlon, executive director of Perimeter Community Improvement Districts, presented proposed roadway improvements for the council’s input. The CIDs plan to fully fund extending turn lanes and installing multi-use lanes to Perimeter Center West Parkway at Perimeter Center Parkway and Crowne Point Parkway.
The PCIDs will return to the council with final plans for approval before moving forward with the projects.
In other action, the council:
Approved the appointment of Cher Breslin to the Discover Dunwoody Board.
Approved the Public Art Implementation Plan as presented by consultant Todd Bressi.
Discussed policies, procedures and fee schedules for city ballfields, including Dunwoody Senior Baseball, as part of the Athletic Association Manual, which includes recommendations about other uses and availability for city fields beyond play and practice times.
Heard about procedures for administering CARES act funds for nonprofits within the city limits.