QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Ticket Donations and the Future
Why are you asking for me to donate my tickets?
Initially, we hoped that we would just be postponing shows and still offering them at a later date in the order they were promised (except seasonal shows – for example we wouldn’t have done the Christmas show in February). But we didn’t foresee that the pandemic would continue for over a year, and that the opening requirements would require some building and HVAC modifications. We now realize that by the time we open we will be at least a year-and-a-half behind, financially. Just as importantly, our board and staff also feel that some of the programming chosen long ago may not now be the most appropriate or relevant to our times. In addition to providing entertainment and escape, we know you expect us as an organization to create opportunities for healthy conversation about current issues and concerns; and to anticipate what’s next.
What percentage of your typical budget is made up of ticket sales and how has that been different during the pandemic?
Throughout our history, ticket sales in our intimate space have ranged anywhere from 40% to 53% of the annual budget. In 2019-2020, where we produced shows for half the year before Covid-19 and presented Rubicon Goes Retro post-pandemic, ticket sales and fees accounted for only 27% of the drastically reduced budget. From October through March (the first six months of the 2020-2021 fiscal year), ticket sales have been just under 8% of budget. Also, as you likely know, most donations to theatres happen as a result of someone being moved by the programs. So naturally, during this temporary closure, donations have affected as well.
If I/we donate the value of the tickets purchased, what does that mean to the organization?
If everyone donated their tickets, it would eliminate the short-term debt which appears on the balance sheet as Deferred Ticket Income. This would put the organization in a better position to solicit grants or financial support from outside funders. Basically, it gets us to zero – a great foundational place to start the work of raising needed funds to reopen and fulfill mission.
Would I need to buy the new season again once it is announced? Even if a couple of the same shows are included?
Yes, that would be our hope. The donations would get us to zero – which is a big, big, step, but would not provide the new start-up capital needed to bring back furloughed staff (production, artistic and marketing); to address union and government requirements; to produce shows, events and educational programs; and to take care of deferred maintenance. We would still need to raise funds through new and renewed subscriptions, and through sponsorships and individual donations.
I want to help! What action do I need to take?
It’s simple, just click on this link. It’s a 2-step process after you click on the link -- you approve the donation and provide your current contact information.
Can I just donate by phone?
Yes, you may contact Samantha in Guest Services at (805) 667-2900 and she will be glad to confirm your amount and your desire to donate your tickets and ensure you receive your tax letter.
Is my donation tax-deductible?
Yes, your gift of the value of your tickets is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Although we are not experts in this area and you should consult with your own accountant or tax attorney, we understand that even those who file a short form may take up to $300 off the top for charitable donations. You will receive a thank you letter in the mail for your tax records.
How else can I help?
Our dream is to reopen with an exciting, unforgettable, rock-your-world season that entices old and new friends to enter our hallowed hall. We want to have all safety measures fully in place and clear protocols so that you are, and know you are, safe and protected. And we want whatever changes are made to include deferred maintenance and to address comfort and hospitality as well. There are many ways you can help – with time, services or donations.
CLICK HERE to see what the needs are. Or feel free to call Beverly Ward or Karyl Lynn Burns at (805) 667-2912, ext. 280 or ext. 224, respectively, to discuss the possibilities.
What if I am unable to donate the value of my tickets?
We understand. You and your loved ones may have been hit as hard as we were, or harder. We care about you. This pandemic has affected many individuals and businesses. We know it is not anything you or we could have anticipated and we know you would help if you could. We were not issuing refunds when we still planned to present the season promised. Now that this has changed, if you are unable to donate, we will provide you with a credit voucher towards future purchases.
When will you be permitted to reopen safely? What are the steps?
There are multiple pieces of the puzzle that we are working through. Your safety and that of the staff and artists is our highest priority. Barring unforeseen changes or another wave or strain of Covid-19, the State of California has now reasonably indicated that we could open mid-summer with certain caveats. From a local standpoint, it looks as though we could open any time after, also with caveats, (i.e. all staff, crew, performers and audience members must have proof of vaccination or a recent Covid test; and all must wear masks except during the performance). Access and egress concerns would be addressed, as well as HVAC changes, with increased and more frequent deep cleaning. Even with this news, however, our primary union, Actors Equity Association (AEA), has 25 pages of requirements that must be met before they will issue contracts for a new season. These are, frankly, more onerous and costly. Larger theatres and artists are advocating to encourage AEA and other unions to reconsider some of the restrictions.
What about restrooms, increased accessibility and security, and parking?
We think about these major issues daily. These are incredibly important to our community and to the long-term future of the institution. It would certainly be great to be able to address some of these needs while we are not in production because of the pandemic. Year after year, we lose patrons who can’t manage the stairs any longer, and it breaks our hearts. What you may not know is that we are “grandfathered in” because the building was originally constructed in the 1920s for public assembly. Any major construction would (and should) trigger full compliance with modern standards. This means there are many things we cannot address without major gifts. So while it may seem like it wouldn’t cost a lot to make these changes, it would likely be several million to address all of these needs. It’s been a well-kept secret (until now 😊), that we had planned a capital campaign prior to the Thomas Fire, but in the wake of that and other fires and the pandemic, we knew the time wasn’t right for a public campaign. But if you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the vision for the future, making a lead gift, leaving a legacy, or naming the complex or parts of the building, please call Bev Ward or Karyl Lynn Burns at (805) 667-2912, ext. 280 or 224, respectively. We dream of a fully functioning, fully accessible venue that will change the face of Midtown for future generations!