It’s been a year since performing arts venues had to shutter due to COVID-19. With little to no income, many have struggled to contemplate a future to which they could return.
Village Theatre recently got an unexpected boost: an anonymous donor gave a $3 million gift to the organization. This donation will help Village Theatre strategically plot its return to the stage once COVID regulations permit it.
According to a press release, the donor has shown philanthropic leadership in the performing arts at large for more than 30 years, contributing to the artistic and economic vibrancy of the region.
“Investments in the performing arts are a powerful means of fostering inclusion, healing, and inspiration. Village Theatre provides a place for people from different cultures, ideas, and walks of life to unite through beautiful imagery, music, movement, and compelling stories,” according to the anonymous donor in the release.
Frank Stilwagner, Village Theatre’s director of advancement, said he was grateful and honored that the donor would invest in Village Theatre.
“The generosity of donors is always humbling and this donor’s belief in Village Theatre’s mission is a testament to all of the work that so many dedicated staff, artists, and board members have done over the past 42 years,” he said.
Since the theatre’s closure and program cancellations, it experienced an 80 percent loss in earned revenues, according to the release. Village Theatre laid off and furloughed about 170 employees throughout 2020. Remaining staffers took a 10- to 30-percent pay decrease; hourly staff was put on a reduced hours schedule.
“It has been many months of worry about the uncertainty of our financial future and this gift provides us breathing room to focus on how we move forward in planning for both the short and long-term return,” Robb Hunt, Village Theatre’s executive producer, said.
The $3 million dollar gift and other support will contribute to Village Theatre’s future, including the return of regular Mainstage operations, in-person youth programming, the development of new works, a tiered restoration of various staff and systems, and more.
“This gift allows us to reignite conversations and collaborations with incredible artists, to deliver on our artistic mission, and to emerge strong from this shutdown, continuing our legacy of producing premium theatre,” Village Theatre’s artistic director Jerry Dixon said in the release. “Our artistic team is eager to once again create impactful stories for the stage that inspire audiences throughout the Northwest, and this humbling gift brings us much closer to that day.”