The Madison Repertory Theatre needs money. A lot. And right now. On Jan. 19, the nonprofit troupe released a statement (PDF) pleading for "significant and immediate financial support from the Madison community."
According to board member Jon Furlow, the Rep needs about $50,000 by Feb. 1 just to continue its current run of Bus Stop and to mount "Wine, Winter & Rubies," its Jan. 31 fundraiser at the Madison Club. Beyond that, Furlow says, the Rep needs to raise about $300,000 in the next two months just to mount the remaining two productions in the 2008-09 season. As for 2009-10, that's anybody's guess.
"We're week-to-week in how we are working with the board and the staff to make decisions about next steps," Furlow says.
Furlow acknowledges that the Rep lost money on some shows in 2008-09 and didn't hit its budget numbers. The organization carried the debt into the current season, and then the national economy went south. Buying a theater ticket became more of a luxury, and donations declined.
"When the economy goes from bad to fatal," Furlow says, "suddenly people don't have the resources to give, and companies are minding their own business. We've got fabulous supporters, but people can only do so much."
The Rep had to lay off nearly half its staff last fall, and Furlow says there's been no discussion of about what will happen to the remaining seven staffers in a worst-case scenario. He says there's also been no detailed discussion of what a 2009-10 season might look like in a best-case scenario.
"We need to look at a season model that's a little less sensitive to the kind of thing we're seeing now," he says. "We want to put on terrific plays, but we have to be responsible. We can't commit to doing things we cannot afford."
The appeal is available in the related downloads at right, and includes information on making online donations and purchasing tickets for the Rep's 2009 Annual Raffle.