Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wellfleet’s Theater Needs Your Support

My last two posts were devoted to charitable end-of-year giving. Times are tough, and we all need to support each other in this bad economy. I have heard that even some successful musicians have not been paying staff on the usual schedule, if at all, which seems incredible, but such is the reality of life when music can be downloaded for free. Journalists are also in jeopardy. My brother hopes to retire before his newspaper goes under. Freelance writers are scrambling to make sense of writing online, which pays a fraction of what they used to receive from magazines. Some careers that were deemed foolproof are proving less so as we begin the second decade of the 21st century. The same folks, who always had money to spare, can no longer reach into deep pockets. Which brings me to the topic of the day: Wellfleet’s extraordinary theater. How many of you were able to enjoy a show at W.H.A.T. over the past summer? Weren’t you amazed by the caliber of the performances and the energy that emanates from a small group of artists, devoted to their art? WHAT just celebrated its 25th anniversary with shows at three venues: the old harbor stage, the summer tent for children, and the magnificent Julie Harris Stage, named for a great Cape Cod-based actress, star of “Beauty Queen of Leenane,” a show I was fortunate enough to see, and what a performance it was! Have you ever thought about how unusual it is for a small town like Wellfleet to be able to offer real theater, with real actors of Broadway caliber? Guests are always amazed when I show them the playbill and describe the season's plays, especially guests from London, England. Now, WHAT needs our help. The theater must raise $100,000 over the next couple weeks.

I asked Jeff Zinn why and he responded, “Part of the $100,000 – maybe half – is what I would consider normal end-of-year fundraising. We typically get much of our contributed income at the end of the year as people are making tax-related (and holiday giving) decisions. The other half is a more-than-normal shortfall brought on by the bad economy. When times are hard – and they are for many – contributions to non-profits tend to suffer, and we have been hit hard by that phenomenon. 2010 is likely to be even more difficult because we got a one-year reprieve on our big mortgage payment in 2009. It comes roaring back in 2010 so we're looking at budgets now. Hopefully it will be made up by more giving and not so much by cutting production costs. If there's one thing we don’t want to do it's cut the quality of our productions.”

So, please give generously so theater in Wellfleet can continue to thrive in these difficult times.