The company will continue its educational programs and theater summer camp. In other theater news: a big grant for Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre.
Stone Soup Theater will vacate its longtime home, Downstage Theatre in Wallingford, at the end of December.
Artistic director Maureen Miko announced in a written statement that Stone Soup was unable to realize its plan to raise essential funds by renting out the tiny Downstage venue on dates when her company wasn’t using it. Stone Soup has occupied the Stone Way space, a compact former dog-grooming shop, since the group’s founding by Miko in 1996. They’ve presented mostly one-act plays there, by Tennessee Williams, Harold Pinter, Anton Chekhov, Edward Albee and others.
Miko says Stone Soup plans to continue its educational programs and theater summer camp. A new venture, supported by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture is in the works: the Young Writers Program, What I Wore: The Events That Shaped Me. It engages youths “in exploring drama, storytelling, and writing as a channel for personal growth.” Spring performances are planned; time and venue to be announced later.
The company also hopes to embark on co-productions of shows with other troupes.
5th Avenue Theatre receives big grant
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The 5th Avenue Theatre has received a three-year, $326,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, a Vancouver, Wash.-based charity that supports efforts to enrich the quality of life in the Pacific Northwest.
The Murdock grant will allow the 5th Avenue to add two new development positions to its staff in a drive to attract more contributed income to support the company’s mainstage productions that draw over 300,000 patrons annually; a new works program for developing musicals; and tuition-free educational activities serving 74,000 young people in the region.
After its founding in 1980, the 5th Avenue for several decades relied on ticket income to underwrite its sizable annual budgets. But with the expansion of its programming, and a drop in subscription sales over the past decade, the company has begun to shift its business model to soliciting more donations from individuals and institutional funders.
The company sustained a $1.6 million loss in 2010 during the recession (a debt it has since repaid), In the past two years it posted small surpluses, and now carries no deficit. The 5th Avenue has recently cut some costs by eliminating several administrative positions, converting to volunteer ushers, and, now, becoming more aggressive about cultivating contributions to help keep the $30 million operation afloat.