Rust Belt Theatre leaving Calvin Center, future uncertain
Financial problems are posing an uncertain future for a live theatre group in Youngstown.
Founder of the Rust Belt Theatre Company, Robert Dennick Joki, has been telling audiences that this month will see the final performances at the Calvin Center for the Arts on Mahoning Avenue.
Also posting a message on Facebook, Joki said that the COVID pandemic has hit the troupe hard. Declining ticket sales and increased operating costs means Rust Belt can no longer remain at the Calvin Center beyond the December 17, 18, and 19 performances of “How the Drag Queen Stole Christmas,” now in its fifteenth year.
“The past two years have been hard. The last thing I ever intended was to become a person who has to beg people for money to keep a theater open,” Joki writes in Facebook. “ It goes against everything I believe in. When producing artwork becomes more about paying bills than it is about inspiration…it suffers. And it will eventually die.”
Joki says he intends to keep producing shows in some form but doesn’t know where performances will take place.