A successful donor drive this spring has helped, but more help is needed, Olney General Manager says.
Brian Hughes of the Washington Examiner was the first to report on the serious financial situation now being faced by Olney Theatre. “Olney Theatre in deep trouble.” (May 31st). The article stated that Olney Theatre Center is carrying a debt of $6 million, and, after a closed door with Montgomery Council members, received a commitment of $500,000 on condition that they submit a financial recovery report in August.
The article continued “Despite approving $500,000 for the theater — with strings attached — in hopes of keeping Olney afloat, council members aren’t banking on many more shows at the “South’s First Professional Summer Theatre.” “I think they would have been better off filing for bankruptcy protection,” said Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, [D-Silver Spring]. “We don’t think that amount of money will pull them out of their hole.”
We contacted Olney and learned that, while the situation is serious and additional support from all segments of the community are urgently needed, the company is working diligently to work their way out of the financial hardship, while pressing on with plans for their 2011 season.
Here is the response we received last night from Amy Marshall, Managing Director for Olney Theatre Center.
“Like many, if not all, non-profit arts groups, Olney Theatre Center has struggled financially as a result of the sustained recession. Already encumbered by the debt established with the construction of our new Mainstage building, additional losses over the years have helped create a debt of approximately $6 million. This past month the County Council voted to add $500,000 to the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County’s (AHCMC) budget for distribution to Olney to assist with debt reduction, if certain benchmarks are met.
We have seen great success securing gifts from major donors this spring and have raised over $1 million for Olney Theatre Center as of this date. However, faced with other economic realities such as a decline in subscriptions (for the first time in five years) and decreases in government funding, the theatre is relying on those funds to help offset those shortfalls. Olney needs additional community support right now, hopefully inspired by the generosity of the county, to help retire the debt.
We are working actively with the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County as well as participating in local programs that will help Olney Theatre Center establish both short and long-term plans for the theatre’s financial success. There are tough choices to be made but with the help of these community partners, the theatre leadership is confident that it will succeed.
Mostly we are grateful for the support of the County Council and our County Executive, Ike Leggett and the Arts and Humanities Council for their generosity and understanding of how important Olney Theatre Center is to its patrons.
We are also, of course, so thankful for all of the donors and audience members who continue to back Olney by attending our performances and making contributions. We want them to know that we are diligently working to finalize what promises to be an exciting season for 2011, and will be making our season announcement very soon.”
Olney Theatre is halfway through its 76th season, having just closed the highly acclaimed musical Triumph of Love. The historic drama Trumpery opens next week, with four more productions coming this year to its Main Stage and black box space, the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab. We hope that you will consider a trip or two to Olney Theatre this summer, that those who can will consider making a donation to ensure that the company continues. Click here to make a donation or call 301 924-4485, and ask to speak with Amy Marshall.
Thanks to an anonymous reader who made us aware of the Examiner article.
We recently learned that if there had been no Olney, the Hugh Leonard play about his father, Da ,would never have been written. Seen at Olney this spring, Da was inspired by the playwright’s residency at Olney.
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