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The Show Must Go On 

Arizona Theatre Company hits funding goal

They did it.

The super-ultra-mega fundraising efforts to save the Arizona Theatre Company have been successful, providing enough financial support to put the 50-year-old Tucson institution on track to launch its milestone season.

Friday, July 15, was the deadline for raising $2 million, which had been determined the amount needed to have enough guaranteed cash to support the upcoming season. That deadline had been extended from the original June 30 deadline because an anonymous donor gave $100,000 to provide a reprieve from dimming the lights in hopes that the projected amount needed could be raised quickly. The group needed such large amounts because of a run-up in debt resulting from bad practices from management, long since gone, several years ago. The group had not been able to pay down the debt, although cuts in costs and re-thinking planned productions had added no additional debt for the last couple of seasons, acting general manager Billy Russo said.

Tucson businessman Mike Kasser guaranteed a million dollars from the Tucson community if a matching amount came from Phoenix, where ATC also performs its entire season.

A total of 448 donors in Tucson and 320 in Phoenix responded to help meet the fundraising goal, according to am ATC press release. Russo said discussions have now begun "so we can reduce production and operational expenses where possible" for this season.

Artistic Director David Ira Goldstein called the fundraising efforts "heroic" and expressed his "heartfelt and abiding gratitude for this outpouring of support from across the state and throughout the country." He and Kasser also cited support from Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, as well as several large donors.

"I'm very pleased that the Arizona Theatre Company was able to reach its fundraising goal, and I hope it continues to enjoy strong support statewide," Rothschild said via email. "Theater is an important tool for developing understanding and empathy—two qualities the world could use a lot more of. I look forward to the upcoming ATC season."

Lynne Wood Dusenberry, chair of ATC's board of trustees, said she was "thrilled," with the money raised, but she joined Kasser, Goldstein and Russo in affirming that there is still work to be done to ensure the continuation of a healthy ATC.

Goldstein expressed assurance that "we understand our responsibility as the stewards of this great organization."

The season opens with King Charles III in September in Tucson and in October in Phoenix.

More by Sherilyn Forrester

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