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Budget woes close curtain on IFCC theater

Nonprofit plagued by declining contributions, inactive board

In a month, the lights go dark at Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center.

A significant budget shortfall is forcing the nonprofit IFCC Inc. board to cease operations as of May 1, ending 28 years of entertainment at 5340 N. Interstate Ave.

'At the moment it's pretty much a done deal,' says Bill Hart, board member. 'The nonprofit (IFCC Inc.) is ceasing operations at the facility, and we're looking at possibly restructuring it. First off, we'll see if there's a reason to continue - if there's interest in regenerating a new board - then look at what our mission is. What the next steps may be, I don't know.'

Decreasing donations and grants - a problem for many Portland arts organizations - was the IFCC's death knell.

Hart, who rejoined the board in October, at which time he saw the end nearing, says there wasn't enough participation on the board. And, 'without a managing director, there has been no fundraising or activities,' he says.

'Attendance was OK (for events),' Hart says. 'But we also offered rental space at below-market rate, which would never generate revenue for us.'

About 80 percent of IFCC Inc.'s money came from foundation and government grants and contributions, and they weren't nearly enough.

IFCC Inc., which had a staff of three people (including creative director Adrian Flagg) and volunteers, has been a tenant of the city of Portland, operating out of the historic former firehouse. Portland Parks and Recreation, which had subsidized the nonprofit, will explore possible future tenants for the site. Existing rental agreements will be honored until June 30.

Recent highlights were shows by Third Rail Repertory Theatre and Portland Theater Brigade, the 'Ruin to Redemption' gallery, 'Eating Raoul' musical by Live On Stage and housing part of Portland Institute for Contemporary Art's TBA 09.

'By and large, (all arts) are kind of struggling,' Hart says. 'Ticket sales are down, and it's getting harder to get support from grants and foundations. It's very competitive; if less folks are handing out money, it means we're all going after the same pool of resources. And, we needed a more active board and we didn't have that.'