Our Artistic Team was in the process of planning an exciting season ... when in March of 2020, our Board of Directors made the decision to temporarily shut down the theatre due to the COVID Pandemic. At the time we hoped for maybe 6 to 8 weeks, until the nation could get the COVID Pandemic under control. By mid-April, we realized that this would be a much longer process ... and we canceled the remaining 4 productions of the 2019/2020 season. This was heart breaking, and especially heart breaking to our cast of DOGFIGHT, which had been in final tech rehearsals, just 4 days to opening night, when we had to suspend operations.
Through out the ShutDown our Board continued to monitor both state and federal information on the progress of the pandemic and the healthcare response to COVID. We continually looked for any signs of when we could SAFELY reopen, for both our audience members and for our actors & crew. Spotlighters took severe measures to keep the theatre solvent during this period, cutting back on occupancy services, placing our staff on furlough, and taking advantage of state and federal COVID Relief funds available to the non-profit and arts communities.
Through the support of Maryland State Arts Council, William G. Baker, Jr. Memorial Fund, Small Business Association-Paycheck Protection Program and PNC Bank, State of Maryland-Department of Housing and Community Development (NORI and SERI-I and II), and the Shuttered Venue Operating Grant (SBA) Spotlighters has been able to meet the monthly expenses that continued while we have been closed for the past 16 (and counting) months.
These grants have allowed the theatre to be prepared to reopen safely in mid-September, and to provide for improved conditions for our patrons and cast & crew. We deeply appreciate the support of these organizations to maintain Spotlighters Theatre, but we also appreciate the members of THE 100! who made monthly donations to support the operating costs of the theatre. And, we thank our individual donors who made donations throughout the year to support the theatre.
With the cancellation of the last half of the 2019/2020 season, Spotlighters experienced an 89% loss of income. And for the 2020/2021 season Spotlighters had no earned income from ticket sales. BUT, Spotlighters survived. And in many ways, the year has allowed the theatre to evaluate our programs and systems and re-define our vision of Spotlighters, and our plans for the future.
Our 2021/2022 season will focus on smaller casts and shows that celebrate bringing our theatre family together again. We will be moving forward cautiously, as we reopen, keeping an eye of what is happening with the Delta Variant and with City, State and Federal guidelines for everyone's safety. We won't be posting a full 12 month season, but posting 3 or 4 shows as we see how things are going locally and nationally.
We have posted auditions for our first show of the 59th Season (2020/2021) which will open in mid-September. We are excited to present an evening of 8 short (approximately 10-12 minutes) plays by local award winning playwright, Mark Scharf, thus the name: SCHARF'S SCHORTS. These short works are directed by Erin Klarner and Jen Sizer, and stage managed by Paul Saar.
We have other productions in the works, and will announce as things progress.
The Artistic Directors (Fuzz and Brandon) and the Board of Directors want to thank all of you that supported Spotlighters during our ShutDown and have helped us keep the Ghost Light on, and will join us when we turn the lights on again in September. You have made it possible! THANK YOU!
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