The pandemic-era economic challenges to the theater business apparently also apply to children’s theater, as the Bay Area Children’s Theatre announced its sudden closure this week after nearly 20 years of performances.

Oakland’s Bay Area Children's Theatre has reached more than a million kids and adults over its 19 years since being founded in 2004, and has won 15 Theatre Bay Area Awards for its musical theater interpretations of children’s books like A Year with Frog and Toad; Good Night, Gorilla; and A Very Hungry Caterpillar Christmas. But despite an in-progress fundraising drive, the organization is yet another theater group that could not emerge financially from the pandemic. KQED reports that the Bay Area Children's Theatre closed abruptly this week amid lingering financial strains from COVID-19.

“Bay Area Children’s Theatre (BACT), a non-profit performing arts organization whose award-winning productions and educational outreach programs have reached more than one million children and adults, has announced it will cease operations,” the theater group said on its website in a Wednesday message. “All forthcoming shows, classes, and camps have been canceled, effective today. Details about refunds for tickets and summer camps will be made available to patrons at a future date.”

A post as recently as Monday was promoting an upcoming performance of Giraffes Can't Dance. The organization had also performed toddler theater at Children’s Fairyland, and threw all-ages dance parties called Baby Raves.

“The Board of Directors has made the incredibly difficult decision to close Bay Area Children’s Theatre,” the theater’s board president Christina Clark Bloodgood said in the announcement. “Live theater has a unique ability to spark children’s imagination and creativity, and we are heartbroken that BACT cannot continue to carry out its vital mission.”

The theater had been running a Save Our Stage campaign to address what it called “unsustainable debt.” Oakland North reports, “The organization’s tax returns show that it lost more than $2.5 million in revenue from 2020 to 2021 and that it ended 2021 with a deficit of more than more than half a million dollars.”

If you’d had any tickets for upcoming shows, or reservations for upcoming classes,  the organization has an online request form. Though they say they’re dealing with “an influx of communications.”

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Image: Bay Area Children's Theatre via Facebook