Okay, we'll admit: we're facing some pretty severe financial challenges at Pacific Theatre. We're not exactly fighting for our life - rest assured, we'll keep the doors open - but maybe it's about right to say it's the fight of our life. But we've decided, rather than ask everybody for donations - the same "everybody" who's being asked for more donations by all the other arts groups and charities and schools and other panhandlers who are also in tough times - we've decided to focus on getting our friends to come visit us. Do yourself a favour - subscribe to our best, most soul-sustaining season ever! Do us a favour - fill our seats, and help us keep the lights on!
If we can double our number of subscribers this season, we'll be fine. If the people who've seen our shows and loved them and told themselves "I need to come to the theatre more often!" would take the step of subscribing this season... If folks who've subscribed in the past and taken a break from season tickets in the past couple seasons would renew... We would earn our way through these challenging times, and instead of wearying our loyal friends with a "Brother can you spare a dime" litany, we'd be enriching their lives and building for the future. Like we've done for 25 years.
Skip this next paragraph if you've had enough belly-aching about financial hard times. But I know some of you want to know exactly how Pacific Theatre is faring in this present economy, so... Tough summer. A long-time corporate supporter had to cut our summer funding in half, from $15,000 to $7500. A wonderful local foundation which has provided corporate sponsorship for two of our mainstage productions and intended to do so annually could not send us their usual $10,000 summer grant because their investment revenue had flattened due to the worldwide economy. A local company that's very close to us raised their funding from $15,000 to $20,000, which is wonderful: unfortunately, that money will arrive in $5,000 instalments through April. Similarly, Canada Council increased our annual support by $5000, but instead of $25,000 in July we received $15,000, with the balance not coming until November. The individual donor who pledged to match all our donor revenue through to the end of August pulled his support: a shock, because we did have a written commitment for that money, but clearly he had pressing reasons: another $25,000 lost. We were also optimistic, after receiving a detailed letter of suggestions from B.C. Access following our unsuccessful first application in 2008, that this year's request would be granted: we asked $70,000, tentatively budgeted for $25,000. All new and one-year gaming applications have been refused. We also applied to Gaming (the only provincial source for capital funding) for $20,000 for desperately needed theatre renovations: same answer. And our request for summer funding to Cultural Spaces Canada to replace a lighting board on its last legs and renovate our sagging seating has been deferred to November. Looking to the future, North America's largest municipal foundation, The Vancouver Foundation, who faithfully fund us every second year, had to decline our request for $15,000 toward REFUGE OF LIES: their grant revenue is derived from interest on investments, and the cupboard is bare. The budget of the BC Arts Council is being slashed to about 10% of current levels over the next two years: presumably, the $25,000 we receive annually will shrink to less than three grand. Bottom line: this summer alone, $72,500 of customary revenue lost or deferred, plus $95,000 of hoped-for funding no longer available or deferred. An astonishing set-back for a theatre of our size: rather suddenly, our September cupboards are pretty darn bare.
No despair. For 25 years, Pacific Theatre has weathered many such storms, and kept on producing plays to feed the souls of our audience. We've got theatre artists who are determined to create theatre, and - thanks to Holy Trinity Anglican Church - we've got a theatre to do it in. Our core staff - Alison, Frank, me - were galvanized through the challenges this spring brought us, and with the addition of Andrea Loewen as our idea-brimming, new-media-savvy publicist and Cindy McPherson as our crackerjack new "Business Nerd" (her preferred title), as well as four energized new apprentices, it's full speed ahead.
Now all we've got to do is sell those tickets.
If you're as old as me, you maybe took typing class in high school. (If you're as old as my daughters, you were probably born typing - if "LOL" and "ROTFL" count...) I remember one excercise Mr Desaulniers drummed into us, clattering away on our Selectric keyboards: "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party." (Heck, my fingers remember it even now, as I type on this little silver slab of computer). To update that 35 years, let me rephrase: "Now is the time for all good fans to come to the party!"
Please subscribe. If your schedule changes and you can't make your night, subscribers get to change nights for free as often as they want. If there's a show that's not your style, give the tickets to somebody: you'll make your friends very happy, and win more fans for our theatre! Get the Everything Pass, and see any show as many times as you like! (See PASSION PROJECT at 7:00, immerse yourself in 35 minutes of NYC performance intensity, then immediately book your tickets for the 9:00 show, hit a Granville Street cafe for coffee and art talk, then see the show again at 9:00 and glory in its richness and spiritual impact. Share in the excitement of an Opening Night subscription - stay for the reception, eat goodies, meet the actors, schmooze with the creative team. See ten different shows of every kind - comedy, musical theatre, drama, edgy new stuff and beloved favourites, family fare and blow-the-walls-out innovation, readings and music and premieres and Christmas and....
PRESENCE (this week! Musicians! Plays, novels, poems, stories - Nick Hornby, Douglas Coupland, Mike Mason, Annie Dillard, A.J. Jacobs, Brother Lawrence, more!). THE LAST DAYS OF JUDAS ISCARIOT (if live theatre was baseball, this would be the All-Star Game!). THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE (our most popular show ever - back in the intimacy of Pacific Theatre). CHRISTMAS PRESENCE (always sold out in advance - to subscribers!). THE PASSION PROJECT (only 40 tickets per performance, part of the Cultural Olympiad! and PuSH Festival!). I WAS MEANT FOR THE STAGE (a celebration of the theatrical life). REFUGE OF LIES (the Vancouver premiere of my best play, fresh from its Off-Broadway run!). SIDESHOW (gut-busting comedy improv for the whole family). GODSPELL (Singing! Dancing! Sheep! Goats! "Prepare Ye!")
If there was a Canada Soul Food Guide, regular visits to Pacific Theatre would ensure a hearty and well-balanced diet, exceeding Recommended Daily Allowances in all categories.
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