What has been a haven for more than 15,000 Texas-based actors and performers has lowered its curtain for the final
time. Beset by economic difficulties since a fire ravaged its long-time home and performance space, the Board of Directors of the Creative Arts Theater and School (CATS) of Arlington, TX has chosen to end the program’s performances on Saturday, July 30.
In an email to supporters, a spokesperson stated, “For some time CATS has been operating at a loss”; the July 2012 fire that ravaged the theater’s 29,000-square foot space at 1100 W. Randol Mill Road turned the once thriving, nearly 40-year-old performance troupe into unwitting wandering mistrals struggling to find a permanent home.
Though CATS was able to rent, for some time, a space at 602. E. South St, this new facility’s floor space was a mere 20% of the the company’s original location. And although Mountain View College in Dallas has offered to host CATS’s final performances, the time has come for the Theater Program to shutter itself.
On their website, CATS highlights how, from the get-go, theirs was a story of overcoming obstacles: “The history of CATS is an extraordinary story of dedication to the goal of bringing performing arts training and live family-oriented theatrical productions to young people and their families in the Arlington-Fort Worth-Dallas area.” Despite the efforts of its Board and a concerted crowd-funding campaign, regaining a permanent home remained out of reach for the company.
CATS’s Executive Director, Heather Simmoms, lamented the theater’s fate, but admitted that today students have several options such as Theatre Arlington for exploring live performance options. Despite alternatives, Simmons stated, “[CATS’s closing is] a sad situation.”
This prior semester, the 2015-2016 season, CATS offered a robust schedule of classes, 18 different courses for students aged 3 to 13+, but, as the email to supporters admitted, “The Board of Directors made this tough decision [to close] because of a decline in student enrollment ,[…] dwindling donations and a decline in available grants.”
As performers prepare to take their final bows and receive their final curtain calls, CATS’s educators, supporters, alumni, and families can take pride in the knowledge that for nearly 40 years the theater and its programs helped engender a feeling of inspiration in its more than 15,000 student actors. The legacy CATS will leave is one of polish, energy, and positivity.
Theatre Arlington commented on their facebook page after hearing the news
“The staff of Theatre Arlington is saddened by the news of CATS’ closing. Most of us taught at CATS at one time or another, and many of us have children who were lucky enough to be a part of their accepting, artistic community. There are generations of Arlington children who were educated and nurtured in the arts, and taught important life skills by the loving staff of CATS. When it comes to the arts, we are all family. Theatre Arlington is dispirited at the loss of The Creative Arts Theatre and School, a loved and valued member of the Arlington arts family.”
The theater’s spokesperson signed off the email stating, “We know that CATS has played a part in inspiring so many children to dream bigger and go farther.”