San Leandro may have lost a cultural institution.
The California Conservatory Theatre, which has been offering plays since 1978, will not schedule a new season, it was announced Monday.
Martin Vitz, president of CCT's board of directors, said the group was likely to end the current season in the red, and couldn't be certain that it would have the financial strength to put on five shows next year.
"We didn't want to start the season and not be able to finish," he said.
The problem, he said, is that the city has been changing in ways that undercut the theater group's financial underpinnings
Vitz said CCT appealed mainly to an older white audience that was declining in numbers. It was unable to hold on to that base and also draw younger theater-goers in a city that is increasingly diverse, in racial, ethnic and cultural terms.
This was exactly in a Patch profile when he returned to CCT last September in a turnaround bid that apparently fell short of what had been hoped.
The tough economy has also conspired to make it difficult for patrons to shell out the roughly $100 for a season ticket to see all five CCT shows.
The group's exact financial picture isn't clear. It just concluded its final show, "," and the bottom line won't emerge until after the end of the month.
Vitz said it cost about $100,000 to run a five-play season. CCT has a lease on a city-owned space on East 14th Street that costs something under $600 a year and expires in the Spring of 2013.
What happens next is fluid.
Vitz said other theater groups could approach CCT about using the 67-seat space; or work with CCT to create a joint operation that split the use of the facility. CCT had used the theater 40 weeks a year to put on five plays -- each with four weeks of rehearsal and a four-week run. Or other performing artists could sublet the space for such venues as musical recitals that couldn't fill a larger auditorium.