Some Good News For the Dallas Theater Scene. And Some Bad News.

The Dallas Center for the Performing Arts has a new CEO, Mark Nerenhausen, formerly president and CEO of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale, where he worked for 10 years. As announced earlier today, Nerenhausen will start the job here in March, six months before the opening of the $354-million DCPA. (The rest of the press release with quotes from Nerenhausen is here.)

Nerenhausen succeeds Bill Lively, the current president and CEO of the Center, who now will transish into a new role as president of the Center's Endowment Trust beginning January 1. Lively also will continue to lead the Center's fund-raising campaign, notable for its individual contributions of $1 million-plus from more than 100 Dallas families.

Now, the bad news: The Dallas Theater Center, which will move into the DCPA's Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre as its primary resident company next fall, is suffering some financial setbacks. Tickets sales have slumped -- though the annual splashy production of A Christmas Carol is selling well, we hear -- and to keep the theater from going into the red, seven staffers have been laid off. We don't yet know who got the boot, but after the jump, the official statement and more.

Here's what DTC General Manager Mark Hadley e-mailed when we inquired:

"We, like everyone else, have felt the pinch of this economy over the past six months. We've seen it most directly in shortfalls in our ticket sales. As we gathered to consider how to handle this situation, our overriding concern was (and is) to make sure this company is in a strong financial position when we make our move to the Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre. To that end, we are determined to bring this year in without a deficit.

"In order to accomplish that, we had to take a hard look at our expenses. We decided to make several cuts around the organization, and some of these cuts involved staff positions. In our case, we created a budget this year that included several new positions as we `ramped up' to the Wyly Theatre. Without the anticipated ticket sales to support these posts, they were the ones to be let go. Additionally, we have a few open positions in the company that we have decided not to fill right now.

"This is a setback in the organization's journey to recreate itself under Kevin Moriarty's artistic leadership, but an obstacle we continue to work ardently to overcome. The board and staff are all together is our commitment to be a vibrant, relevant, and fiscally strong theater company."

No word yet if this will delay the hiring of the nine-member resident acting company Moriarty first mentioned last April. Those names were/are due to be announced in January, or so Moriarty told us at the opening night of Carol.

After every performance of the Dickens play, by the way, the cast is inviting the audience to contribute a buck or two to the North Texas Food Bank. Average take post-performance in the first week of the run has been $1,000 a night, according to DTC PR-er Jacob Ciganeiro. Maybe they should beg a little change for the starving artists too. --Elaine Liner

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