Dear Colonial Fans,
This is NOT a typical October at the Colonial Theatre. In pre-pandemic days, October at the Colonial was one of our busiest months: a time when we’d delight in the offbeat at Halloween; welcome artists to the stage to thrill-packed houses; and anticipate holiday film traditions and new releases.
Oh, how we yearn for those days …
This year, because we’re unable to offer live concerts and despite everything we’re doing to keep our spaces safe for you to view films and our staff to work safely, attendance is trending down nearly 90%. This massive decline in foot traffic translates to very little revenue from ticket sales, concessions, and screen sponsorships – the very bread and butter (or popcorn and butter) on which we depend. And no one knows when we will turn the corner.
But we have taken action to stem the bleeding.
In response to the near-total evaporation of earned income streams and the continuing uncertainty wrought by the pandemic, we adopted a six-month budget instead of an annual one. It incorporated painful cuts in expenses and anticipated receiving grant funding for which we qualified.
Our short-term budget also requires reducing the number of days we’re open to the public, raising ticket prices back to their pre-pandemic levels (still less costly than those of other movie houses!), and slashing compensation -– by 50% — for some staff. Following the weekend ending on Sun. Nov 8, the theatre will only be open Thursdays through Sundays for the foreseeable future.
Some of the Colonial’s long-standing vendors have generously reduced their fees and our primary lender has extended a lifeline, temporarily deferring monthly interest payments. And still, this is not enough to make up for the holes created by the loss of program revenue and grant funding that we recently learned will not materialize due to the overwhelming need of much larger, similarly imperiled organizations. There simply is not enough grant money to meet the need.
To get back on track, the Colonial has to raise at least $150,000 by December 31st .
That’s where YOU come in. Right now, lovers of movies and the performing arts like you are the ONLY thing preventing communities from losing venues like the Colonial Theatre.
Your extraordinary generosity, the Payroll Protection Program, and some emergency grants have kept us going until now. While many other theaters across the nation were making agonizing choices in the springtime, an outpouring of donations (thank you!!) made it possible for us to delay messages like these. But we’re now facing the prospect of an unusually challenging winter. One in which we’re nearly 100% dependent on donations for survival.
We continue to be hopeful …
Believing that we need stories and songs that inspire, inform, and transport us – that sustain us as we journey to the other side of the pandemic – we’re not abandoning some of our planned programmatic initiatives. These include continuing to make the Berry Theatre available for intimate private screenings and offering FREE movie tickets to under-resourced individuals and families through our Ovations program. This equal access program will begin soon in cooperation with several, local social service organizations. And … you can expect to experience a more welcoming website coming in December. These latter two initiatives pre-dated the pandemic and we are committed to moving them forward in service of our non-profit mission.
Would you consider helping … ?
We know that times are tough all-around. But we hope you’ll consider what you typically spend in a year on arts experiences – and give generously if you’re able. The Colonial’s survival has long term implications for the local economy. The arts stimulate jobs, provides work for vendors, and sustains nearby restaurants, bars, and retailers. They all depend on our being a significant anchor for the local economy.
For now, we look forward to seeing you at the theatre, where masks are the rule, you can count on sanitized theatres and safely-distanced viewing in your favorite place.
Warmly and with hope,
Ken Metzner and the entire Colonial Staff
P.S. Please consider donating to our winter fundraising drive today. You can also invite others to join you with our first-ever Go Fund Me Charity Campaign featuring special premiums.
The official registration and financial information of Association for the Colonial Theatre may be obtained by the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.