Nat’l Theater of the Deaf gets gov’t grant

'Miscommunications' cost theater federal money in 2000

SOUTHBURY, Conn. — In the past 12 months, the once-beleaguered National Theater of the Deaf has achieved a complete turnaround.

The touring organization, which will celebrate its 35th anniversary next year, is debt-free for the first time in many years, and the Dept. of Education has given NTD a grant of more than $2.7 million.

Jerry Goehring is its new executive director.

According to NTD director of marketing and media Pierre Patrick, the grant makes up for “miscommunications” last year that cost the theater federal money. It is receiving the grant at the rate of $687,000 a year for the next four years, NTD’s annual budget is $1.5 million.

Based in Chester, Conn., the National Theater of the Deaf found itself in deep financial trouble seven years ago when it was discovered that its executive director had misappropriated funds, most of them federal. The recent sale of the theater’s former Chester home helped to cover much of the debt, and its headquarters are now situated in rented offices in Hartford.

During its 2000-01 season, NTD toured the U.S. with productions of “The Curse of Sleepy Hollow,” “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and “The Dragon Story.” Upcoming shows include John Augustine and Willy Conley’s “Oh, Figaro!” (based on Beaumarchais’ “Le Barber de Seville” and “Le Mariage de Figaro”) and Conley’s “Falling on Hearing Eyes.” The theater company is also readying the release of a fund-raising CD, “The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t,” featuring John Lithgow, on Cleopatra Records,.

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