Cambrian: Arts & Events

Pewter Plough cuts back on musical shows, citing finances

Café Musique, pictured here, is among the musical acts to have performed at the Pewter Plough Playhouse, which announced it is cutting back on musical performances.
Café Musique, pictured here, is among the musical acts to have performed at the Pewter Plough Playhouse, which announced it is cutting back on musical performances.

Most musical programs are off the calendar at the Pewter Plough Playhouse in Cambria.

The venue is cutting back on an ambitious schedule that expanded at the beginning of the year from stage plays to include musical and other attractions such as poetry.

Monthly poetry nights will remain on the schedule, Pewter Plough owner Rebecca Buckley said, along with weekend stage plays and Central Coast Jazz Institute performances.

Canceled, as of this week, are what Buckley called “hired music gigs.”

Buckley called the decision a financial one.

“We’ve had to take this second look and step backwards because our music nights since January have continually drained the stage play coffers to an unacceptable level,” she said in a news release.

She explained in a follow-up email interview that the poetry on the second Wednesday of each month and the jazz band performances on the second Thursdays would continue because “these two events aren’t paid gigs. Poetry is free, Jazz Institute is donations. The six months we’ve had paid musicians has been costly for us, money going out, none coming in. There wasn’t enough community support to sustain it.”

In December, Buckley released a schedule of events that included eight stage plays, regular dances and musical performances by the likes of Café Musique and Jill Knight. Mary Anne Anderson, who also hosts the poetry nights, performed monthly in a smooth jazz trio.

Buckley said she is open to more music in the future, but under a different format.

“In future we are also open to special nights of music or an event where artists produce and perform a program, do their own promotions and advertising, set their ticket price, and share a percent of gross with the PPP — same as the Jazz Institute Band does,” she said. “And there is a folk music series coming up, handled the same way. And a stand-up comic show.”

She said there more information would be coming on those later.

Buckley added that dinner-and-a-movie nights at Harmony Café, would continue, as well.

“Even though we have discontinued the paid music gigs at the playhouse, we do encourage musicians and special events coordinators to present their ideas to us and produce their music at their own costs,” Buckley wrote in an email. “We just can’t afford to pay them. Space rental is available or PPP percentage of gross terms negotiable.”

She said in the news release that the decision was “all about business.”

“I can’t pay the musicians from a $5 admission when zero to 12 patrons show up. That was the average,” she wrote in an email.

“We tried, it didn’t work.”

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