A rally will take place Tuesday afternoon in support of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre. It comes after last week’s announcement that The Rep was suspending operations because of financial problems. Since then people have been discussing ways to help the theater resume operations.
Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, is helping to organize Tuesday's event, which begins at 5 p.m. in front of The Rep at 601 Main Street in Little Rock.
Rutherford spoke with KUAR in advance of the rally. You can listen to the interview above or read a transcript below.
MICHAEL HIBBLEN: How did you come to take this role in working to help The Rep?
SKIP RUTHERFORD: Well Michael, thank you for having me today. The Clinton School has had a partnership with The Rep since 2010, and for the past several years when a Rep play takes place, prior to its opening, the cast will come to the Clinton School, members of the cast, and will do a panel presentation as part of our speaker series. And when we got the news that The Rep was suspending operations, several of us got together, several people had been talking, and said what can we do because it’s too much of a treasure for Little Rock, for central Arkansas, and quite frankly, all of Arkansas. And so what we agreed to do was, because so many people want to do something, want to get involved, want to be a part of it, capture the spirit... it’s like, when the news came out it was like a death in the family, it was just like people are grieving.
HIBBLEN: Yeah, it shocked people.
RUTHERFORD: It shocked a lot of people, some people knew The Rep was having some serious financial challenges, but it did shock a lot of people. It shocked a lot of our students who just were stunned because The Rep is a part of their lives too. So we decided what can we do collectively as a community, not only to generate support, but to validate support and to build support?
HIBBLEN: What’s in store? It happens at 5 o’clock outside the building on Main Street.
RUTHERFORD: Well, there’s going to be a wide variety of different… this is a very organic organization. I mean this is just people coming together, there’s no major structure, it’s volunteers, people who are volunteering their time, volunteering their talents, volunteering their equipment, they’re volunteering their music, they’re volunteering expenses related to it, so it’s just people coming together. So what I think is going to happen is that hopefully some announcements will be made about support for The Rep and how people can support it and people who have stepped up to support The Rep.
HIBBLEN: And Skip, what will it take monetarily to bring The Rep back to life?
RUTHERFORD: You know Michael, I am not on The Rep’s board, I’m just doing this as a citizen. So, my sense is that what The Rep needs in the short-term is anywhere from $1 million to $2.5 million, short-term, which covers debts and sustains operations. For long-term sustainability, for long-term future, The Rep needs to raise about $5 million, but what we need to do starting now is that if we could get pledges and commitments and raise $1 million to $2 million in a quick amount of time, that’s a pretty admirable goal, that’s a pretty far-reaching goal, but this is a treasure and this is a way of life. The Rep has been here since 1976. To let this thing go without a fight, without a rally, without a support, I think it would be the wrong thing to do for our city, I think it’s the wrong thing to do for our state and that’s why I want to be a part of it.
In the interest of discosure, we should note that Skip Rutherford is also a support of KUAR and takes part in our on air pledge drives.