Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Center, Company of Fools finalize merger

Organization to make public announcement tonight

Express Staff Writer

Kristin Poole

The Ketchum-based Sun Valley Center for the Arts and the Hailey-based Company of Fools theater group have merged into a single nonprofit arts organization that plans to offer productions, programs and events throughout the Wood River Valley.

Leaders of the two groups are scheduled to make a formal announcement of the agreement at a celebration tonight, Jan. 2, at 5:30 p.m. at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey. The public is invited to attend.

The announcement comes after more than a year of analysis by the governing boards of the two organizations and a hired consultant. Under the agreement, Company of Fools will become the theater arm of The Center but will retain its name and identity. The theater group will continue to be based out of the Liberty Theatre, which it has used as its headquarters through an agreement with actors Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, the owners of the building.

“We are thrilled to add this ‘fourth leg’ to The Center’s programmatic table—complementing our strong visual arts, music and humanities offerings,” said Kristin Poole, artistic director and co-executive director of The Center.

Denise Simone, a core company artist of Company of Fools, said the merger will allow the two groups to more easily collaborate on entertainment and education projects.

“It’s a merger about deepening our community, rather than downsizing,” she said.

As a final step, Company of Fools’ nonprofit 501(c)(3) status was dissolved so the organization could move under the administrative umbrella of The Center.

Simone said the primary motivation for the move was an opportunity to cooperate, but she noted that the merger is expected to solidify both organizations.

“I think every arts organization in the last four years has had to look at sustainability,” she said.

Simone said the new, unified organization will now be one of the three largest arts organizations in the state.

The nonprofit Sun Valley Center for the Arts, founded in 1971, is the oldest arts organization in the Wood River Valley. Company of Fools was started in Richmond, Va., in 1992. It moved to Hailey in 1996 and has since produced dozens of plays at the Liberty Theatre. 

Greg Foley:

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