AP NEWS

Children’s theatre closing amid misconduct allegations

November 28, 2019 GMT

BEVERLY, Mass. (AP) — The Boston Children’s Theatre is closing amid allegations of inappropriate behavior by its longtime artistic director.

The Beverly-based nonprofit organization filed for bankruptcy late Wednesday and canceled all productions and classes, including its upcoming holiday performances, the Boston Globe reported Thursday.

James Solomon, the theater’s interim president, said the organization is in a “precarious financial situation.”

“We are sadly left with no choice but to file for bankruptcy while we investigate the factors that led to our dire financial situation,” he wrote in a letter to parents and students obtained by the newspaper.

The organization did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.

The theater, which was founded in the 1951, announced Burgess Clark’s resignation earlier this month.

It said at the time that the 58-year-old artistic director stepped down in late October, two days before more than a dozen former students sent an anonymous complaint to the organization’s board of directors.

The former students say they were kissed, massaged or inappropriately touched by Clark during private lessons or at his Vermont home when they were 14 to 18 years old.

They also say his acting classes involved “risk-taking” exercises that sometimes involved students kissing or touching each other in sexually suggestive positions, and that Clark asked them about their sexual experiences.

The organization has also since cut ties with Clark’s partner, Daniel Blake, and the theater’s executive director Toby Schine stepped down earlier this month.

Neither Clark not Blake has been charged with any crimes and Schine hasn’t been accused of any misconduct.

Beverly police and the Essex District Attorney’s Office have said they’re investigating the allegations.

The Globe has reported Clark and Blake faced complaints about their conduct with students at a youth arts camp in Colorado in 2004.

Officials at the Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School & Camp in Steamboat Springs have said they reprimanded the two but didn’t report anything to police because they found no evidence of criminal behavior.

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Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com