Turnage tops fundraising goal

Published 1:01 am Friday, July 1, 2011

The nonprofit Turnage Theaters Foundation has exceeded a $78,000 fundraising goal by $8,000, said Scotty Henley, executive director of the foundation.

The receipt of this money from individuals and businesses ensures a fifth season of performances for the Turnage Theater.

The cash campaign began in the spring.

Henley has booked at least some of the 15 shows that will be on the bill for the season.

The full season will be announced late this month.

Henley expects tickets for these upcoming shows to go on sale around the second week of August.

Though the foundation surpassed its fundraising target, more money will need to be generated to keep the theater open long term, Henley warned.

“We can’t stop now,” he said Thursday. “We’ve got to keep the funds coming in.”

Early this year, leaders of the foundation said the $78,000 was essential to keeping the theater’s doors open.

With the fifth season hanging in the balance, in May those leaders confirmed they had reached the $65,000 mark and expected to overtake their target.

“We’ve had a really good response,” foundation treasurer Bob Schultz said in May.

The foundation had sought a whole or partial renewal of a $100,000 grant from the City of Washington.

The city had granted the foundation $100,000 a year for five years, but that obligation ran out during the fiscal year that ended Thursday.

In its budget deliberations in June, the Washington City Council agreed to provide the Turnage $22,000 in city funds.

This money was separate from the foundation’s campaign for private dollars.

Some members of the downtown business community advocated for continuing public and/or private support of the Turnage.

“Having the Turnage downtown is crucial to the success of downtown,” said Gary Ceres, an owner of I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store on Main Street. “The Turnage draws in more people than perhaps anything other than the restaurants downtown, and it’s one of the signature things that people look for.”

Without the Turnage, downtown businesses would lose a lot of their clientele, Ceres asserted in a Thursday interview.

“They draw a lot of people from outside that have never come to downtown,” he said.

Ceres’ business has aided the Turnage by engaging in cross-promotional activities with the theater. Ceres has attended some shows at the theater.

“They need all the support they can get at this moment,” he said. “We can’t rely on the public funding because we don’t know when they’re going to cut it.”

In an interview earlier this week, Bob Henkel, an owner of the Inner Banks Artisans’ Center on Main Street, called for ongoing initiatives to bring artisans and patrons downtown.

Henkel indicated the arts are key to economic development.

“Our city is being driven right now by the arts community,” he said.

The Turnage season kicks off in earnest with a gala opening Oct. 14.

For more information, call the Turnage at 252-975-1711 or visit www.turnagetheater.com.