UPDATE: DECEMBER 23, 2020 – After months of dark stages and financial strain, Upright Citizens Brigade announced on Wednesday that it will be selling off its Sunset Boulevard complex.
“We have been forced to sell our theater on Sunset,” a statement released on Twitter reads. “We have been unable to make mortgage payments during this extended shutdown. We know this theater was a home for so many, and so many people were responsible for helping it grow. We want to thank all of those people and the New York community who were also significantly impacted by recent closures.”
At least for the time being, the comedy theater and school intends to keep its original Franklin Avenue location, and plans to reopen that space for performances and improve lessons once pandemic conditions allow.
MARCH 19, 2020 – Upright Citizens Brigade has informed the staff of its theater and education centers in Los Angels and New York City that almost all their jobs will be eliminated. The mass UCB layoffs will be effective March 20, according to an email employees received this week.
“This truly is a time of uncertainty amidst the COVID-19 outbreak and we as a business do not have all the answers however, we are being forced to make some very difficult decisions,” the email to staff published in journalist Seth Simons’s Humorism newsletter reads. “Sadly, we regret to inform you that we have decided to conduct mass layoffs. This decision was not an easy one and the Company reviewed all options available before deciding to conduct these layoffs.”
The skeletal crew of remaining employees will be focused on offering courses in the popular improv and comedy training programs that have been a major source of revenue for UCB. For the time being, courses will be offered online.
Some of the roles eliminated by this round of layoffs could be restored when the live entertainment economy rebounds, the UCB statement suggests, however the company had been dealing with labor and financial pressures that started long before the current pandemic. There were significant layoffs in late 2018, and a move in early 2019 to go dark at the Hollywood theater several nights a week and cut student performances.