New Fundraising Ideas Bring Us Ever Closer to New Center and New Opportunities

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on June 7, 2011

I have to quash a rumor. Someone dear to me said that she had heard we were not good civic-minded citizens since we didn’t offer our venue, the Roxy Regional Theatre, for Rivers & Spires’ Talent Search. That’s just not true. We have had to cancel performances in the theatre, for it was a losing battle with the outside speakers aimed at our far-from-soundproof walls.

As good community-minded folk, we have pay-what-you-can previews, buy-one-get-one-free military discounts for Wednesday and Thursday performances, proffer free tickets to APSU drama and music students, provide to Parks and Rec the use of our space, per gratis, each summer (and have done so for nearly the last 25 years), and present “Comedy on the Cumberland” as a major fundraiser (continuing that effort on Tuesday, June 7, with a benefit for The Salvation Army). I really don’t think a novice performer, or even our seasoned professionals, could deal with that distraction.

Things will be different in the new center for arts and education. So many events, from The Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention to touring productions, concerts and dance recitals, could be housed here. With the building being solid and soundproof, then of course the Rivers & Spires Talent Search would be more than welcome.

Other nearby theatres host bus tours which bolster their attendance. We pride ourselves — I know “pride cometh…” etc. — but in this case, being inclusive rather than exclusive is a reason of pride for the theatre. The experience of it is unique and personal. As Gertrude Stein said a rose is, so the theatre is. I see many tour buses whose participants come to peer at the mural next door, but none ever unload to see a show or to dine and shop on Franklin Street. I’m not sure how Cumberland County Playhouse or other theatres of the like manage to reach that market, but I think that with us, the Customs House Museum, Fort Defiance and this being a Sesquicentennial year, we or someone should look into that. I think of that lyric from Carousel: “I let my golden chance pass me by.”

Mary Nell Wooten, who has a voice like merlot poured over sandpaper, came up with the idea of our 1000 x 1000 fundraising campaign, which has garnered cash, checks, pledges and promises, but more importantly brought the concept of a new center for arts and education to the fore. She has come up with yet another brilliant and creative way to increase awareness while bringing in funds. “Pennies for Plays” would have children who attend the theatre bring pennies in a bag, a sack, a sock, etc. Lee Iacocca had a similar idea to refurbish the Statue of Liberty, and that worked. Why not?

The young, talented and well-trained coterie of children continue to amaze, astonish and awe audiences in their highly professional rendition of Big River, playing Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 6pm and Saturdays at 2pm and 6pm, through June 11.

See you at the theatre!

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