In a Medium post published Tuesday afternoon, Studio Theatre founder Joy Zinoman announced that the theater is shutting down its 43-year-old acting conservatory. “With no warning, the leadership of Studio Theatre — which I founded three years after the first class of the Conservatory — informed me of their intentions to eliminate the Conservatory as part of the theater,” she writes. “They also informed us that their proposed multi-million-dollar renovation project would now necessitate our eviction from the building.” Zinoman also writes that she and the faculty will be opening their own conservatory, separate from the theater. “While we are sad to say ‘goodbye’ to our physical home,” she writes, “we’ve identified several locations for our new space and are currently raising funds for this effort.” She adds that “all our programs, scholarships, and faculty remain the same. We will just be in a different location. And perhaps our new home will once again serve as an anchor for the community.” A spokesperson for Studio Theatre confirmed that it will no longer be involved with the conservatory after this year’s summer session.
One of the biggest names in DC theater, Zinoman founded Studio in 1978 and served as artistic director for decades. When she retired in 2010, David Muse took over. The acting conservatory has more than 10,000 alumni, including many members of DC’s professional theater community.
UPDATE: Studio Theatre released a statement from artistic director David Muse and managing director Rebecca Ende Lichtenberg, part of which is excerpted below:
The Board and leadership of Studio Theatre have made the difficult decision to bring our acting conservatory program to a close. The decision is one of the results of a strategic planning process that looked to the future, assessed our resources, and identified key priorities for the company. We made this decision after much consideration, and with respect for our founder Joy Zinoman, for the Conservatory’s esteemed faculty, and for the program that they created. In June of 2018, we began conversations with Joy about how best to wind down or spin off the program. Those conversations came to a final resolution last week. The conservatory will continue operating as planned through August 2019.