The Unexpected Befalls North Carolina's Triad Stage — A Ton of Money

News   The Unexpected Befalls North Carolina's Triad Stage — A Ton of Money
Think of it as extra equity for a regional Equity company.

Triad Stage, the resident Equity theatre in Greensboro, North Carolina, announced that after less than four years it is retiring its start-up debt with the help of $730,000 in new donations, commitments, and the forgiveness of a $378,000 private loan.

"Recognizing the significant impact Triad Stage has made to both the cultural life of the Triad and to Greensboro's downtown revitalization efforts, donors stepped forward to eliminate the company's start-up debt and put the company on solid financial ground," according to a statement.

In an era when resident professional theatres such as Charlotte Repertory Theatre are closing their doors, or operating in the red, the news from tiny Greensboro is extraordinary.

The new money now means, among other things, that the mortgage on the renovated department store Triad calls home is paid off.

"We now fully own the building," managing director Richard Whittington told With the debt erased, Whittington is now freed up to concentrate on fundraising for the operation of the theatre rather than cleaning up red ink that had started to leak due to early ticket sales that were lower than projections, to say nothing of the national and local recession. "Triad Stage started production three months after Sept. 11 [2001], at a time when the recession had taken hold," Whittington said. "Our projections did change a lot."

"All of us at Triad Stage are extremely grateful for the enormous generosity and support this community has shown for our work and our mission," said Preston Lane, artistic director and co-founder of Triad Stage. "These remarkable new gifts enable us to build our artistic home on a sound financial foundation. I am thrilled that we begin our fifth season with the ability to look to the future as we continue to build community and create dialogue through theatre."

The additional support comes at a particularly important time in Triad Stage's development. On Sept. 8 the theatre launched its fifth season of producing live theatre in historic downtown Greensboro — blocks from a former Woolworth's that was the site of a major Civil Rights sit-in. The season-opener is Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

With its accumulated debt retired, "now the theatre's challenge is to continue to grow revenue and annual support so that annual operations can become self-sustaining," according to a statement.

The theatre also plans to raise additional funds to make previously postponed facade improvements and equipment upgrades.

"The best way people can help us right now is to attend a performance," said Whittington, managing director and co-founder of Triad Stage. "If you like what you see, become a season passholder, and, if you're already a season passholder, consider making a contribution to support our operations."

Triad Stage began producing in January 2002, after conducting a capital campaign to purchase and renovate the downtown building at 232 South Elm Street into a home for the new theatre company. The building, a former Montgomery Ward department store, had been vacant for almost four decades. Today the four and a half story building houses a 300-plus seat theatre, two spacious lobbies and a gallery space, as well as the administrative offices and support spaces for Triad Stage. Triad Stage also operates a regional scene shop.

According to the announcement, over the course of its first four years of producing live theatre, Triad Stage has grown into one of the three largest not-for-profit performing arts organizations in Greensboro. The theatre's season passholder base of over 2,700 is one of the largest in the Triad region and season pass sales for the new season are running 15 percent ahead of last year's pace.

Triad Stage's fifth season delivers six mainstage plays: Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire (Sept. 4-25), The Turn of the Screw (Oct. 16-Nov. 6), On Golden Pond (Jan. 22-Feb. 12, 2006), the world premiere of Brother Wolf (March 12-April 2, 2006), 'Master Harold'…and the boys (April 23-May 14, 2006) and The Matchmaker (June 11-July 9, 2006), plus the return of the hit holiday show, The SantaLand Diaries (Dec. 1-3 and 8-10, 2005).

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