I know that it’s a not-for-profit trope that “every dollar counts.” Folks also talk a lot about how the larger an organization is the less impact a gift — particularly what most would consider “small gifts” — really has on day to day operations. I wanted to tell a few quick stories to let you know exactly how you are making an immediate and significant impact on our work.
We pushed hard for season ticket sales this year, and we managed to break a record. A lot of folks resisted for one reason or another even though I’ve pointed out that even if you see a few shows a year that the season pass is the best value. While we appreciate someone picking up a ticket period, our base of season support allows us to spend more time (and money) making the show better and less on chasing folks down to buy a ticket. We don’t have a lot of staff or staff hours, and we’d certainly all rather be in the scene shop or rehearsal room than pounding pavement with flyers in hand. We’re just two shows into the 2016-17 season and have already opened with our third most successful non-musical show. Having our opening weekend sold out with season passes a week ahead increased urgency and began to fill latter performances. The result? A whole slew of sold-out shows and we were able to pay our actors 50% more than what we promised them. Our non-union payroll is always based on a conservative estimate that we believe the show will actually do in terms of ticket sales, whereby we establish a breakeven point. Then we offer our artists a percentage of sales above and beyond that so that when we do great, everyone does great. Again, we paid or actors 50% more than we promised. You helped do that (and if you still haven’t snapped up a season pass, it’s not too late). I will again stress our commitment to regional talent. The money these artists make stays right here in this community where they support local businesses, pay taxes, and make lives. Looking past the economic impact: we have an embarrassment of riches in terms of talent and we see no reason to look elsewhere.
My second story: we began an Annual Campaign in January with a goal of $60,000. This campaign’s primary goal is to bolster the administrative and organizational needs of the company. To this point we’ve largely tied all of our needs to the show budgets, which necessarily impacts the money available for talent and production. By creating a stream to alleviate some of that burden we’re not only able to do better for more people, we are creating hours that I can dedicate to the company to pursue other needs. A lot of you know I teach at USF as my other source of income. Having more hours coming from Jobsite means I need less there, and more hours for Jobsite is already making a difference. In this time I’ve managed to meet with well over a dozen potential candidates for our board of directors, and we’ve landed four of them. These folks will make us stronger and provide me with support that I am desperate for. I’ve also had a lot more time to write grant applications and seek other funders. We are in the application process with two different foundations, both for our commitment to Shakespeare, and if fully funded we would be able to offer a company of almost 20 artists what would be considered union wage for the size of our room and provide greatly reduced to free admission for hundreds of area students, many of whom would not likely otherwise have access to something like that. Again, this is YOUR WORK. The impact is immediate, and I hope you see how significant it is.
We have no building to pay for, or utilities to cover, or loans to pay back. The largest line in our annual budget is paying our artists to do their thing: actors, designers, directors, stage managers. When you purchase a season ticket you’re making an immediate difference in the lives of some four dozen ensemble members. When you donate to our annual campaign in any amount you’re not only doing something to make the company stronger and more sustainable you’re actually attracting even more money. Not just because of the extra time I’ll have to invest in this organization and my artists but also because all gifts to the annual campaign are still being matched $1 for $1 by a generous grant from the Gobioff Foundation. We’re 71% of the way there with 2.5 months to go. I believe we can do this.
Thank you for all you do, and for being a fan. I hope to see you soon at the theater. I’l be at LIZZIE most nights (what can I say, I can’t get enough) so please stop me and say hello!