San Francisco's Magic Theatre Exceeds Emergency Fundraising Goal; Show Will Go On

News   San Francisco's Magic Theatre Exceeds Emergency Fundraising Goal; Show Will Go On
Magic Theatre, San Francisco's 42-year-old troupe that prizes risk over commercialism, exceeded its $350,000 emergency fundraising goal by $100,000, preventing a shutdown of the operation.

Artistic director Loretta Greco said in a statement posted at, "On behalf of the board and staff of Magic Theatre, thank you. We are deeply grateful to our community of supporters — subscribers, artists, audience members, and other theatre-lovers — here and all over the country, who made contributions to keep our doors open. We thank you for your generosity, and we thank our Board of Directors for its extraordinary leadership."

In late 2008, the not-for-profit announced on its website that it was $600,000 in debt and would shut its doors Jan. 9, 2009, unless it raised $350,000. The deadline was extended to Jan. 12 when an anonymous donor offered to match money that was donated. The total raised was about $450,000.

The donor who offered the challenge grant was an anonymous national arts supporter who wanted the theatre to meet and exceed its fundraising goal so that Magic "has the resources to continue its 43rd season and secure its future," according to Magic.

Between Jan. 9-12, 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 can now retain its staff, continue the season, and remain responsible to its creditors. According to a statement, "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."

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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.

A $600,000 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 Late 2009 statement by Magic.

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, 2008, 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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