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Actors Theatre of Phoenix is fundraising to stay alive

After 26 years in the Valley, Actors Theatre is struggling to make ends meet.  The theatre company has initiated a three-stage fundraiser to help keep the shows and the company going.

The first goal is to raise $70,000 by Nov. 30 so that the company can complete the run of their current production, “Next Fall.” As of 4 p.m. on Nov. 2, the company had raised $45,336, according to their Facebook page.

Erica Black, Actors Theatre’s General Manager, said “Next Fall” will complete its full run. Now they are hoping to move forward with the following show, “Hunter Gatherers.”

Black is hopeful that they will be successful in their fundraising efforts, but she recognizes that “there is a long road ahead.”

After the first goal, the second is to raise an additional $170,000 by Dec. 31, so that the company can continue their season. Finally, they hope to raise another $260,000 by June 30 “to stabilize the company, establish a strong financial footing and move forward,” according to a news release about the fundraising goals.

Luckily, the community has been extremely supportive of the company.

Matthew Wiener, Actors Theatre’s Producing Artistic Director, said they are “off to a very good start,” and the support from the community is significant, because people realize that the arts community is fragile and that Actors Theatre is a beneficial company.

The effort has been very collaborative with people from Arizona and even people outside of the state.

Black said that 10 different states other than Arizona have already sent gifts to help. The theatre staff has also helped by taking a personal hit to their wallets. Wiener, for instance, has not taken a paycheck in three months.

Not everyone can afford to give up their paychecks, but there is a way for even a struggling college student to contribute to the fundraising efforts.

“(We are) trying to create grassroots efforts, so the more the merrier,” Wiener said.

Black also spoke of the grassroots efforts and said that people have been sharing the message with their social networks, so students can easily help that way. Wiener suggested that people “like” Actors Theatre on Facebook and share information they find interesting.

The theatre is also thinking about an event that students could help with, and she said that they would entertain any ideas for a fundraising event.

Another way students can help is to go see the shows, Wiener said. There are a lot of opportunities for students to get tickets, from student rush tickets to pay-what-you-wish performances.

We would “love to see more students in the audience.” Wiener said.

He invited students to come see “Next Fall” which has a lot of ASU connections such as current and alumni ASU faculty.

Lynn Trimble, author of the blog “Stage Mom” on the Raising Arizona Kids website wrote, “Works this original covering topics too often tucked under the table (or shoved in a closet) are rare,” speaking about “Next Fall.”

“Theater companies who dare to present them rarer still. That they perform them with such beauty and brilliance makes the thought of losing Actors Theatre all the more devastating.”

“Next Fall” runs through Nov. 13.

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