We had 4 season ticket productions in 2017: The Mystery of Edwin Drood; Love, Sex, and the IRS; She Loves Me; and Enchanted April. Each production had its ups and downs; from little known titles, to new directors, to casting issues, to marketing setbacks. But overall, the production value was high and we were happy with the final products. That being said, perhaps the community felt differently because ticket sales were down between 5 and 9% (depending on the show) from the projected values. (The projected values are derived from a conservative underestimate of actual mean values from the last 3 most equivalent titles.) Since the projected value is already an underestimate, to come in 5-9% less in ticket sales is an even bigger problem than it may seem at first glance. Some of this can be attributed to the brutal weather we had during the winter production, but mostly we find it is because despite it being a solid line-up, none of the titles were old, standby classics. While we love the old standbys, we try hard to mix it up for both patrons and performers, but run the risk of not meeting our bottom line when we do.
Our reader's theater program is really beginning to take off. We had 3 productions in 2017 and plan to have 4 in 2018 (one per quarter-year). 3 will continue to be themed events: International Women's Day, Halloween, and Christmas. The 4th production will probably be a high quality drama that would not work for us a season ticket production, but would be an opportunity for actors to really dig deep. An example of this would be 2016's reader's theater of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It was a pretty remarkable production that garnered rave reviews from the small audience that attended. All of our reader's theaters are free to the public and are accompanied by a pretty stellar bake sale to offset the production costs and sometimes raise a little money.
The K-12 summer theater program is really going strong and we had our regular session 1 and session 2 programs in July and we added an "Introduction to Theater" week-long morning class for 3 and 4 year olds! We didn't have enough interest to be able to hold our after school spring and fall classes (we need a minimum of 6 students), so those programs came in under the projections as well.
Our community/education branch of programming is growing. We had a presence at Farmers Market each month, participated with an information booth at Daly Days and the Ravalli County Fair, on Hamilton Tonight 2nd Fridays we partner with Chapter One Book Store and the Executive Director reads aloud for a toddler story time, hosted a Halloween costume party with live music, and helped local schools with resources for their performance related events. Our volunteer program is really taking off as well and despite the reduction in ticket sales we have increased our volunteer pool by nearly 5% this year.
Going into the 3rd quarter, Hamilton Players was down nearly $10,000 in projected income and our reserves were tapped out due to mix of emergencies, illnesses, and unforeseen circumstances. This was going to leave us with a huge deficit to start the new year, and quite honestly could have been the straw that breaks the camel's back. It could have closed our doors for good. Luckily for us we had a major fundraiser planned for September 16: All the World's a Stage. It was our first, classic dinner and auction fundraiser event and it was successful enough to bring us current and make up for the ticket sales deficit. And then we were visited by a Christmas miracle: The Ryan Foundation offered up a $5000 matching grant to replenish our reserve fund! This grant opportunity was presented to us on December 22 and as of today (December 29) we have raised $3475. With only $1235 left to raise, we are really hoping to secure the entire $5000 match!
Auditions for the first show of 2018, Chicago, are underway and the cast list should be posted on New Year's Day. We are all really looking forward to that production and it will be a great kickoff to what is promising to be a fantastic 2018! As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a safe and wonderful New Year!