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2000-2001 fundraising appeal for
All-of-us Express Children's Theatre

All-of-us Express Children's Theatre is into its twelfth season! We're just finishing Little Mermaid, with its fantastic costumes, are ready to hold auditions for Gareth, the Gentle Gargoyle (in collaboration with Riverwalk Theatre), and still to come are Aladdin and this season's summer show, Pinocchio.

Next season we're looking at doing The Prince & The Pauper, The Wind in the Willows, James & the Giant Peach (for summer 2002), and probably something else.

The Clown Troupe is going strong. We're offering an increasing number of classes. We have an endowment of over $12,000 and money in the bank from donations and grants to pay the Executive Director's salary through 2001. Many small fundraising activities allow us to keep our office and rehearsal space in repair and purchase needed supplies and equipment.

Not bad! We deserve a pat on the back, and the many people who help us do what we do deserve a big thank-you!

But we aren't out of the woods yet. We have two big problems we must figure out how to deal with.

PROBLEM 1: Space

Don't let the fact that we've been in Holt for two years make you forget that we have only a 30 day lease on our current office/rehearsal space. And believe it or not (for those of you who have been with us since our 2,700 square foot space in Frandor), we have outgrown this 6,600 square foot facility.

To underscore this, we had a visit from the county fire inspector this summer, which confirmed that we are pushing our use of this space to the limits of safety. You may have noticed that a lot of stuff disappeared between July and September. It's in storage, which is both expensive and inconvenient.

Moving again is not going to be easy! We need around 6,000 square feet for office, waiting room, costume, sets, makeup, and storage, plus as much classroom and rehearsal space as possible. And of course we want our own theater!

Oh, no! The Fire Marshall!
"Oh, no! The Fire Marshall!"

But even without the theater, we're talking 10,000 square feet to truly meet our needs. Where we're going to find that, for a price we can afford, we don't know.

The alternative is to decide we cannot successfully grow into an organization that also offers a full range of classes, and shrink back into a group of people who get together to put on a few plays each year. For our first five years we did three shows a year, with relatively small casts. We could return to that. We may have to return to that.

So there's Problem Number One. We either find a larger, more permanent space, or one day we will have to shrink.

PROBLEM 2: People

They pay the Costumer thusly?
"They pay the Costumer thusly?
Even we would not be so miserly,  Sheriff!"

Let's assume we do not shrink, but continue to do at least what we have done during the past few seasons.

We now pay our Executive Director a minimal salary ($10,000 a year). But what we do depends on more than one person. Can we afford not to pay those people, too?

Could you take responsibility for costuming an entire show of up to ninety young people? (Remember, our performers can change size between auditions and opening night.)

Could you design a set the director can work with, that will be safe for our performers, that can be transported, then taken down and put back up over and over again on the kind of stage we have to rent?

Could you work with the young people who on opening night will be running the show, and teach them what they need to know without destroying their confidence in themselves?

These are not easy things to do. Rarely, very rarely, do we find a person who has the talent, skill and time to do these things for us. We absolutely can not do quality shows without these quality people.

We pay these critical people a pittance. No way could we advertise these positions as paid jobs. ("Work long hours no matter how you feel; pay less than fifty cents an hour; no benefits.")

I have given All-of-us Express over 2,500 hours of my time during the past three years. While I was still working at the University the only way I could do that was to go to three-quarter time, which I did, giving up that income. I don't drive, so I and my children have logged a lot of hours riding the bus to and from our various locations.

Volunteering isn't easy. I get tired, even burn out for short periods. So do the other major volunteers.

Whenever I think about becoming less involved, I think about what All-of-us Express has meant to my children, and quite frankly, to me. I think about that, and I not only keep going, I often find a way to do more. Because there is nothing that can take the place of All-of-us Express.

Okay, we have problems, what can we do?

To solve our space problem, I'm afraid there is very little our membership can do directly. (Though if you just happen to own a vacant 10,000 square foot facility, now is the time to speak up.)

But you are not powerless. You know people. You vote.

I know you care about the future of All-of-us Express. I know you care about your children. I know you care about the arts. Do something.

To address the people problem, we need money. Use the form on the last page to send us what you can.

But it would be better if we could generate the revenue to enable us to pay these people a salary. We cannot do that without space, and without a theater in which we can schedule performances far enough in advance that we can advertise our season and sell season tickets the way every other theater company in town does!

You will do something!
"You will do something!"

So you see, although our people are critically important, our self-sustaining future depends on access to space.

You've heard the expression, "water everywhere, but nary a drop to drink?" So there is no lack of space in this area, only an inability for All-of-us Express to have a small bit of space to call its own.

The bottom line.

Please do make a generous donation so we can continue what we are now doing. (Cash, stock, old cars, gold bullion, or mentioning us in your will are fine. Ask us for details.)

Also, please think about what we can do to meet our needs for space in which to conduct classes, rehearsals, and the business of theater.

Do whatever you can to increase the availability of performance space in the Greater Lansing Area.

It's not enough any longer to simply be a friend of the arts. You need to take some direct action.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." – Margaret Mead

Nowhere to go but up!
"Nowhere to go but up!"

Lisa Lees

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

While I'm thinking about the space problem, here's
some money to help with the people problem! Enclosed
please find my contribution in the amount of:

 __$10 __$25 __$50 __$100 __$250 __$500 __$1000 __other

 to be used for (you may indicate $$ or percentages):

 ____ endowment        ____ Executive Directory salary
 ____ general fund     ____ other salaries

Name __________________________________________________

Address _______________________________________________

City _________________  State ___  Zip _________-______

May we list you as a donor in show programs? __yes __no

Name to list: _________________________________________

The All-of-us Express Children's Theatre is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit corporation. Your contribution is deductible
to the extent allowed by law, and you will receive an
acknowledgment of your gift for tax purposes.

It is the mission of All-of-us Express Children's Theatre to provide young people with an opportunity to produce plays of a professional quality, and to provide the community with an opportunity to enjoy live family-oriented dramatic activities.

----- a rainbow of possibilities! -----
© 2000 All-of-us Express Children's Theatre
819 Abbot Road, East Lansing MI 48823 USA (517) 394-4118

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