Published 6:37 am Sunday, October 26, 2008
to be maintained
The Turnage Theater is a treasure for Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina by every possible measure. It is a gorgeous historic structure that has been beautifully restored, it brings a wide array of theatrical and musical entertainment for all to enjoy and in just 11 short months it has already proven to be a major economic force in our community. The Turnage Theater Foundation is probably the largest purchaser of hotel rooms in the county and has had a documented major impact on the restaurant establishments along Main Street and for many other local merchants.
For the first four events the theater has presented this fall, attendance is up by more than 15 percent over last year’s aggregate numbers. The lobby and theater spaces are being rented and used by community groups, both for-profit and nonprofit, at an ever increasing pace. And even with the increased usage, the theater staff is maintaining the great restoration effort impeccably.
So many individuals, businesses and foundations made this gem of a theater possible. The capital campaign effort was vigorous and successful. Thank you one and all for participating with such generosity and passion.
While the campaign to restore our gorgeous theater was long and arduous, it is now most critical to keep it viable and thriving. If the Turnage Theater is going to serve as a major economic engine for our community it must not be burdened with financial stresses. No cultural nonprofit can survive on earned revenue alone. They each must develop and enjoy an active and large core of annual philanthropy. This is true of even the largest and most prestigious arts organizations. The Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera must raise almost 50 percent of their operating and fixed expenses in donations each and every year. If an organization’s ticket sale revenue covers all variable costs, they are considered quite successful. To date, the Turnage Theater has managed to do just that through excellent programming and careful stewardship. However, the theater must continue to raise money.
While it is not unusual at all for a lull in giving to occur following a large capital campaign (and especially in stressful economic times), it is very important for Turnage patrons and ticket buyers to understand that the theater needs ongoing philanthropic support. And I mean it needs that support each and very year. The theater is doing well on earned revenue, but those funds only cover about 55 percent of the total expenses the theater incurs. So please, join the Turnage Theaters Foundation at the highest level you can afford, consider a large sustaining gift in honor of a loved one, underwrite a performance, endow a seat for $1,000 and, of course, buy tickets. By giving in one or more of the ways just mentioned, you will play a pivotal role in maintaining our wonderful theater and its programs. All of eastern North Carolina will be grateful for generations to come.