KC Rep gets $1 million budget hike

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre board of trustees approved a $1 million budget hike for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Eric Rosen, the Rep’s artistic director, said the budget will jump from $6.5 million to $7.5 million, reflecting the scope of his inaugural season as well as his desire to build the artistic staff.

“It’s not as dramatic as it might sound,” Rosen said.

The 2008-2009 season will include eight productions. The season that just ended offered seven shows, including the annual production of “A Christmas Carol.”

In addition, some of the plays on Rosen’s first season — particularly the musical “Winesburg, Ohio” and the epic “Arabian Nights” —have large casts.

“More artists are being employed, more designers, more everybody,” Rosen said.

Rosen also intends to hire a director of new works to develop plays for eventual production on the Rep stage. Once it’s up and running, Rosen expected the program to include readings, workshops, commissioned works and playwright residencies.

Rosen said he lobbied for an expanded budget in his earliest meetings with the search committee charged with finding a new artistic director.

“When I first started my interview process, I talked about the need for expanded artistic resources or else there was no point in me even coming,” he said.

Rosen, who has argued the importance of creating a more cohesive arts community by finding ways to collaborate with other arts organizations, was recently named to the seven-member board of directors of the Charlotte Street Foundation.

The foundation began as an organization dedicated to helping visual artists but this year for the first time awarded grants to three performing artists.

“We’re ecstatic that he was interested,” said David Hughes of the Charlotte Street Foundation. “We wanted to add performance expertise to our board and I think this creates an important, direct connection between a major arts organization and a grass-roots, artist-centric organization.”

Rosen said such connections are essential.

“I don’t see how the Rep can identify the talent to lead the next generation without keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the community,” he said.