About Face Theatre has launched an emergency campaign to stabilize its finances. The company announced today that it will postpone its planned spring 2009 production–the world premiere of What Once We Felt, by Ann-Marie Healy–until next fall. At the same time, the troupe’s board of directors is mounting a “Face the Future” initiative “to save the organization by raising $300,000,” according to a press release.

“Save the organization” is pretty dire language. “The recent economic downturn is having a devastating effect on the arts community nationwide and About Face is under intense financial strain,” commented artistic director Bonnie Metzgar. Board president Bill Michel put a more positive spin on the situation, saying, “The Board of About Face remains confident that supporters around the country will join us in ensuring the future of this important cultural institution.”

Founded in 1995 by Kyle Hall and former artistic director Eric Rosen, About Face has an impressive history of producting high-quality, offbeat theater on gay, lesbian, and transgender themes, including the world premiere of the Tony-winning I Am My Own Wife, the musical Loving Repeating (adapted from the writings of Gertrude Stein by composer Stephen Flaherty and director Frank Galati), Mary Zimmerman’s Eleven Rooms of Proust (coproduced with Lookingglass Theatre Company), and One Arm (adapted by Moises Kaufman from a Tennessee Williams story).

About Face’s current production, Stupid Kids, runs through March 8 at the Center on Halsted. Reviewing the show for the Reader, I wrote, “If this gutsy, high-energy show is a sign of what we can expect from About Face under Metzgar, the company’s future is bright.” My comments referred to the artistry and craftsmanship of the production. Financial troubles, though, are a different matter, faced by every nonprofit theater regardless of the quality of its work.