Your local, all-volunteer community theater is facing a big challenge and we need your help.
In September of last year, ACC Central Services informed us of a new unified leasing policy for all government-owned facilities. Because of this new initiative, our annual rent is being raised from $1/year to $25,345. As an all-volunteer non-profit with ticket sales as our only income, we are unable to generate these funds. Even with a potential grant discount down to $4,619 a year, we would be hard-pressed to make this payment. This new lease also opens the door to further rent increases in the future.
Many of you may know the history of our building, the Athens Community Theater. In 1968, William A. Mathis received approval to build the “Little Theater” building for the use of Town & Gown Players, Inc. The building was then gifted to the city, along with stock to cover the cost of necessary land improvements. At that time, it was agreed that the city would own the building, but it was primarily for the use of the Players for as long as our organization existed. There was no lease–just an agreement that as long as we continued to produce shows, the Players would have a home.
For thirty years, this agreement remained unchanged. Then, in 1998, Athens-Clarke County required us to enter into an official leasing agreement. While many were concerned at the time, we were assured that this was merely a formality to better align the building’s standing with other government properties. An annual rent of $1 was designated for this purpose.
For the past 52 years, we have honored our part of the original agreement: providing opportunities for the community to participate in various phases of community theater work, producing quality entertainment, and maintaining/improving the building and grounds. In response to this new leasing policy, we have reminded the county about this agreement and asked that it remain in place.
This is where you come in. Starting this month, the Mayor and Commission will be considering the rent recommendations for our organization. Will you contact them and respectfully ask them to keep our longstanding, current lease agreement? Hearing from you and as many other Town & Gown supporters as possible could impress upon them both our importance in the community and our inability to take on this financial burden. A template to guide you in contacting these officials can be found here. Questions? Please email Nathan Altman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With humble thanks in advance for your support of our continued mission,