Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Your help is needed
As most readers of my blog already know, Ann Arbor's Performance Network has had financial struggles for quite some time - culminating in May 2014 with the dismissal of its staff once the board learned just how deep the debts really were. (Initially, the debt was thought to be approximately $250,000; the amount turned out to be substantially higher, I've since been told.)
New management was brought in, shows were produced under tight budget constraints, and programming was expanded to include different genres in order to attract a broader and more diverse audience.
Unfortunately, many regular patrons felt burned by the board and previous management - tickets and season subscriptions were bought and paid for, for example, for a show that was canceled midstream and a season that wouldn't be produced - and so many stayed away from the newly re-opened theater. And worse, donations - the lifeblood of every theater - dropped dangerously low.
But as management proved its sincerity and produced quality work, seats began to fill up. But donations have not returned to levels that are required to sustain the theater.
And so Performance Network is in danger of closing. Again.
Personally, I hate that there's a chance we could lose one of our state's most honored theaters. Its loss would be a major blow to Metro Detroit's arts and culture scene and a significant loss to the employees and artists who work there.
I've said this both publicly and privately many times this past year: that if anyone can return Performance Network to financial and artistic health, its the management team of John Manfredi and Suzi Regan. Not only do they have the necessary skills to accomplish the near-impossible, their efforts have been assisted by numerous friends and theater lovers who believe in them and their mission.
As a result, countless hours (and sleepless nights) have been spent tirelessly trying to save this important institution - and now it's time for others to step up and help.
Here's the plea I received today from John and Suzi. Please read it - and then consider helping with whatever donation you can afford. The arts have the power to help change the world - and my readers now have the power to help make that happen in the tiny corner we share of it.
I thank you in advance for your consideration - and I'm sure John and Suzi do as well...
UPDATE: For a complete look at this situation, read JENN MCKEE's story in today's Ann Arbor News
* * * * * * * * *
Friends and supporters of the Performance Network: we need your help. Due to immediate cash flow constraints, we are sadly in danger of closing. On the heels of a truly tremendous start to our 2015-2016 season, earning public and critically acclaimed artistic success, this is not a flag we want to wave. Yet, wave it we must.
We need the community's affirmation, support and financial help. Like all nonprofits, Performance
Network needs donations to thrive. Absent your generous donation today, it might be curtains for the Network.
Under a new executive and creative leadership team, the new Network has offered 250+ performance days, partnerships with the Ann Arbor Film Festival, University of Michigan Penny Stamps School of Art and Design, a Youth Summer Camp recently featured on PBS, nominations for Industry Awards in the State of Michigan, and generated over $250,000, farm to table, right here in our local economy.
As a revered cultural icon, we hope that the Network means as much to this community as Ann Arbor means to us. Countless supporters have attended shows and given to recent campaigns for donations. Even so, our challenge is that donations at the Network are down 2/3 this year. The Network needs donations to survive. Cultural institutions rarely, if ever, exist on ticket revenue alone.
We hope to continue to offer you the professional, high-quality theater that closely rivals any Broadway production right here in your backyard. We will endeavor to ensure the Network’s vitality by continuing to offer readings of new works, musical events, film festivals, and holiday shows in addition to a full theatre season. Our 2015-2016 season opened to rave reviews with Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. http://www.pntheatre.org/news-reviews-theatre/.
Will you join us? Performance Network needs to generate $50,000 in the next 45 days. If having a local company continue to produce and create jobs in Michigan is important to you, act now. There is no better time to help. Please go to http://www.pntheatre.org/donate/ to make a donation today or call us at 734.663.0681.
Yours in the Arts,
John Manfredi, Executive Director
Suzi Regan, Artistic Director