A Q&A on Theater of the Stars' fundraising effort



Why do you have such a short time to deal with this problem?

Our financial stress did not happen overnight.  We have been carrying significant debt and have been working through our problems for the last few years.  Our President resigned in April and a new and restructured management team comprised of our Producer, Christopher B. Manos, Vice President, Brian D. Frey and Chief Financial Officer, Robert Browne, was established to run Theater of the Stars, with Chris Manos being primarily focused on producing the musicals and Brian Frey and Robert Browne running the day to day operations.  This team structure has proven effective and the team has made significant financial changes to reduce our overhead, moved our offices and warehouse, paid off a lot of creditors, negotiated bills, lowered our rent and started to position ourselves to move forward in a positive way. Unfortunately, our plan included a loan that would be paid back during our 2013 Season and the loan fell through this week.  The loss of that loan was significant and we realized that we were in a storm of financial stress that we could no longer absorb.  We viewed a “Save Theater of the Stars” campaign as a last resort and made every effort to avoid that. 

How much money is needed and by when?

Our total is $1,000,000 – we must raise $500,000 by July 12th 2013 or Theater of the Stars will cease operations and shut its doors.  Once we reach that 1st critical benchmark, we will be able to produce Dreamgirls and present Anything Goes and pay certain expenses toward the balance of the season. The additional $500,000 in funding will help us to complete our season and be on a stronger financial footing for the future.  This campaign in which we must raise $1,000,000 will meet our financial obligations through January 2014, and put us in a position to produce a fiscally sound and artistically vibrant 2014 Season.

Is this a “one time” fix or will you be returning to the community with a similar plea in future seasons?

First and foremost, we will NOT come to the community with a similar request in the future.  This is a one-time opportunity to start a new beginning at Theater of the Stars.  We are an arts organization with a multi-million dollar budget.  This one time infusion of capital will enable our new management team to focus on the rebuilding of the organization, so that we emerge stronger, and a more vibrant and dedicated arts presence in the city of Atlanta. 

Why is Theater of the Stars asking for money now?  How did this happen?

Like many, if not most, non-profit arts organizations Theater of the Stars has been hurt by the bad economy.  Theaters of the Stars’ staff and board have worked through the recession to continue to produce Broadway caliber productions with significantly reduced budgets; however, revenue expectations were not met. The company’s total debt load combined with a reduction in philanthropic dollars has created a storm of financial stress which must be addressed immediately.

If I donate, how will my money be used?

Donations received over the next 2 months will be used for the immediate cash flow needs of producing our current season: including artists, staff, Fox Theatre costs and production fees for our produced shows like Dreamgirls and Disney’s The Little Mermaid and critical payables that are due on a weekly basis. 

If Theater of the Stars does not reach its bench-marked goals, what will happen?

If Theater of the Stars does not raise in total $1,000,000 by August 30th 2013, the 61 year old arts institution will likely cease operations and close its doors.

I am a donor.  If I donate to this campaign, will you ask me for an additional gift later in the year?

The full $1,000,000 campaign includes the remainder of our annual fund goals for the year.  If you donate to this campaign, it will be counted as your annual gift and you will not be asked for another donation in 2013.

If I have already given this year, do you still need my help?

First of all, thank you for your donation.  If you can help even more we would appreciate it or you can also help by spreading the word about this campaign.

What is the relationship between Theater of the Stars and the Fox Theatre?

The Fox Theatre has been the home of Theater of the Stars for over 20 years.  The Fox Theatre has always been supportive of Theater of the Stars, but does not provide any funding to the operations of our organization.

What are you doing to ensure a sound business model moving forward?

We continue to work on our operational analysis with our new management team and we have identified the following as opportunities that must be addressed as we move forward:

#1            Assert strong operational and financial controls

#2            Create stronger and more effective local Atlanta partnerships

#3            Elevate and diversify funding efforts

#4            Strengthen and broaden Board of Trustees

#5            Structure programming for greater profitability

#6            Continue to develop our educational outreach to young people in the arts.

Who is going to lead the rebuilding process?

The team of Christopher B. Manos, Producer, Brian D. Frey – Vice President  and Robert Browne – Chief Financial Officer.

Our Board of Directors is the following individuals: 

Jennifer Bauer-Lyons- Director of Company Initiatives for Georgia Shakespeare Festival

John Breckenridge- President of Houston’s Theater Under the Stars

Charles Jeffers- Senior Vice President of Operations and Executive Director East Point Sales and Marketing, Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau 

Mark Kent- Vice President of Education and Community Engagement, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra

Denny Reagan, President of the St. Louis MUNY

Belinda Reusch

Grant Wilmer, Jr.- Attorney, Arnall Golden Gregory, LLP

Why did you cancel Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story?

We canceled Buddy because it was not selling well.  Ticket sales in Atlanta as well as other markets were well below expectations.  If we had presented the show we would have lost a substantial amount of money.  Our Board agreed that canceling the show was the fiscally responsible decision for the company.

What happens to my tickets for Buddy now that the show has been canceled?

If exchanging tickets for a future performance is not desirable, rather than requesting a refund it is our hope that you would consider converting the ticket purchase to a tax deductible contribution.

Will Theater of the Stars have a 2013 and a 2014 Season?

If we are able to meet our fundraising goals then we will be able to move forward with the 2013 Season.  Moving forward with our new plan for the organization under new leadership will position Theater of the Stars for a vibrant 2014 Season as well.

What can I do to help?

  • You can make a tax-deductible donation through the following options:
    • Donate securely online at www.theaterofthestars.com
    • Mail your donation to Theater of the Stars, Inc at P.O. Box 11748, Atlanta, Georgia 30355
    • Call 404-252-8960 to make a credit card donation
    • You can like us on Facebook and repost our message to your friends
    • Share our story with your friends and family

Where should I send questions?

Our Vice President, Brian D. Frey, would be happy to answer any of your questions.  You can reach him at 404-252-8960 or at brian@theaterofthestars.com.

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