Arts Supporter Will Match Donations to Imperiled Magic Theatre; Deadline Is Jan. 12

News   Arts Supporter Will Match Donations to Imperiled Magic Theatre; Deadline Is Jan. 12 Magic Theatre, San Francisco's 42-year-old troupe that prizes risk over commercialism, has raised more than $300,000 toward a $350,000 goal that will prevent a shutdown of the operation.

In late 2008, the not-for-profit announced on its website that it is $600,000 in debt and would shut its doors Jan. 9, 2009, unless it raised $350,000.

A recent "challenge grant" prompted the troupe to keep its pledge drive open a few days longer than originally announced — ending Jan. 12.

"Since its initial appeal nine days ago, San Francisco's nationally acclaimed new plays theatre, Magic Theatre, has raised more than $300,000," according to the website. "Magic was just awarded an anonymous challenge grant from a leading national arts supporter to encourage the theatre to meet and exceed its fundraising goal so that Magic has the resources to continue its 43rd season and secure its future. To maximize this challenge, Magic has extended its fundraising campaign three days. The challenge will double the impact of contributions up to $100,000 made to Magic now through midnight [Pacific Time] Monday, Jan. 12, 2009." As of the morning of Jan. 12, the troupe was $39,500 short of its goal. To donate, visit magictheatre.org.

Magic announced, "With funds raised so far, we began rehearsals for our next production — Tough Titty by Oni Faida Lampley — slated for previews beginning Jan. 24. The staff, furloughed for two weeks, is back at work with pay. Magic must raise a total of $350,000 by Jan. 12, 2009, to retain our staff, continue the season, and remain responsible to our creditors. The new challenge grant is a crucial opportunity for Magic to ensure that we have the resources to complete our season and create a plan not just to survive, but thrive."

Monetary response to Magic's fundraising appeal has come from subscribers, artists, audiences and theatre lovers from all over the country. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel and award-winning San Francisco playwright Octavio Solis are among the many who have underscored the importance of Magic's mission in special messages. *

The debt, "combined with sharp declines in earned and contributed revenue due to the global economy, place us in imminent peril of shutting our doors," according to a Magic statement.

Magic "is committed to a new model of financial stability for a new world — without compromising our mission."

From its beginnings in a Berkeley, CA, bar, Magic has offered world premieres and Bay Area premieres, staging the work of "diverse and powerful voices of contemporary American artists, including four Pulitzer Prize winners."

Billing itself as the second largest theatre in San Francisco, Magic "employs 200 artists annually and touches the lives of tens of thousands of people. The Board remains committed to Magic's new plays mission and in concert with the staff has been proactive in drastically cutting its $2 million budget by over $300,000 and raising additional funds in an attempt to close the gap between Magic's expenses and revenue lost as a result of the recession."

Fall 2008 saw the area premiere of Evie's Waltz, a play about parenting and teen violence, and The K of D, about a small town.

"The critical success of the first two productions of this season demonstrate the rigor Magic passionately brings to each aspect of new play production — and the hoped for excitement, awe, and wonder that come from watching great art play out for audiences."

Magic welcomed its new artistic director Loretta Greco in spring 2008.

On Dec. 14, Shakespeare Santa Cruz announced that its 2009 season would not happen without an infusion of $300,000 by Dec. 22. It reached its goal, and then some, welcoming $417,000 in pledges.

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