The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 6, 2012

TWV debt free and working to raise funds

One year after Theatre West Virginia closed for nearly four months during a financial crisis, General Manager Gayle Bowling reports the theater is debt free and working to raise the $80,000 they’ll need to remain sustainable.

Each year the theater receives a line of credit to pay for royalties and program printing costs in the months before their state appropriation of $265,000 is awarded.

Last December, the theater found itself unable to pay off their line of credit in the wake of several decreases in state funding during Joe Manchin’s tenure as governor. The theater was forced to close its doors until Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin stepped in with additional funding to float the theater through the crisis.

On Wednesday Bowling announced that Theatre West Virginia was able to pay their debts after the Summer 2012 season and has secured a line of credit to get the 2013 season rolling.

The theater, however, will still need to raise a total of $80,000 through grants and fundraising campaigns to cover expenses beyond the state funding.

“We hope to find the funds so we can celebrate the State of West Virginia’s 150th birthday this year,” said Bowling. “We are constantly writing grants. We have received a few small grants for our summer shows and next year’s touring show, but it is an ongoing process.

New this year, patrons and supporters can donate money to the theater online via its website, www.theatrewestvirginia.com. Donors can choose to give to the Historic Preservation Fund, The John Benjamin Outreach Fund, or toward theater education.

Bowling also suggested that those looking for unusual or unique Christmas gifts can give the gift of performing arts by purchasing gift certificates for Theatre West Virginia.

The theater is also preparing to start their annual membership campaign in February.

“In February we offer ticket packages, which allow patrons to get tickets at lower prices and helps us generate income at a time of year when we are spending the most upfront to get the shows off the ground,” she said.

Theatre West Virginia’s 2013 season will include “Hatfields and McCoys,” “Honey in the Rock,” “Rocket Boys: The Musical,” and “The Wizard of Oz.”

The season opens June 11 and runs through Aug. 25.

Bowling said the theater has already seen a tremendous amount of interest in “Hatfields and McCoys,” with its popularity still heightened by the History Channel miniseries that aired earlier this year.

In honor of West Virginia’s sesquicentennial, the company will be touring a special adaptation of “Honey in the Rock” in March. “Honey in the Rock” features the state’s founding and is the oldest American Civil War drama still performed.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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