By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
In December, Musical Theatre of Anthem had reason to celebrate.
The company was awarded a $57,000 grant from Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust for the purchase of upgraded auto, lighting and microphone equipment.
The funds were used to purchase a more sophisticated and unified system that matched the new 110-seat auditorium.
“It was a year in the making of getting strict financial reviews and meeting with the Piper foundation on multiple occasions,” says Jackie Hammond, the MTA’s producing artistic director. “We couldn’t believe how lucky we were to be the recipient.
“The sound is enhanced. The clarity of the sound in general is 10 times better, if not 100 times better. The lighting really gives us more options for back lighting, and upgraded lighting in general. It gives us more color options. There aren’t any dead spots on stage.”
But all of that could change, thanks to COVID-19, or the coronavirus. Musical Theatre of Anthem closed its production of “The Wizard of Oz,” shorting the company of its ticket and merchandise profits. The third-party ticketing system it uses, Brown Paper Tickets, refuses to release $8,300 of its money, Hammond says.
“We were doing so great and now we’re in danger of closing,” Hammond says. “After a wonderful grant and an exciting upcoming season, we will close if we can’t get back on our feet. We’ll lose $50,000 if we’re dark for eight weeks.
“We were so excited about this season and one of the shows is our 100th production, which is very special. I’m trying to remain positive, but as you can imagine it’s hard.”
Musical Theatre of Anthem is an award-winning, nonprofit theater company that works to develop youth and adults in the performing arts.
The MTA trains and educates youth so they can become the artists, patrons and leaders of tomorrow while providing opportunities to adults that empower them and foster their creativity. The MTA is supported in part by the Arizona Commission on the Arts, which receives support from the state of Arizona and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Right now, though, Hammond says she doesn’t have the ability to pay her staff, rent or utilities.
“We have no money coming in, except from our donors,” she says. “Our operating expenses are $400,000. If we can’t get kids in the doors, we can’t run our company at all. It’s terrible that it’s happening.”
As a result, Musical Theatre of Anthem is looking for donations.
“No donation is too small,” she says. “When it’s time to open our doors again—and hopefully we will—hopefully new kids who haven’t participated will come. We need help to get through this time, though.”
To donate, visit musicaltheatreofanthem.org/donate.html or call 623-336-6001.