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1999-2000 fundraising appeal for
All-of-us Express Children's Theatre

As the world is poised to enter a new millennium, All-of-us Express Children's Theatre is confidently moving through its eleventh season. We recently closed Robin Hood, have begun work on The Princess and The Pea and Twelve Dancing Princesses, and will finish our season with Aesop Says, a show written by Evelyn Weymouth.

Yes, this is about money

Last year this letter raised over $10,000, which the Board of Trustees has earmarked as seed money for the Theatre's endowment. The endowment committee is determining how to invest our endowment. The newly established fundraising committee, chaired by Todd A. Heywood, has been charged to begin major fundraising efforts aimed at building a substantial endowment for the long term operation of the Theatre.

This year I need to address a more immediate concern. The Theatre must begin paying its Artistic and Executive Director, Evelyn Weymouth, a salary, as soon as possible.

For ten years and over 30 shows, Evelyn has given her time to make this company what it is today. We have never paid her more than small fees tied to the production of each show, usually the equivalent of less than 50 cents an hour for her time.

After her mother died in June 1998, Evelyn had to take a half-time job as a teacher's aide to make ends meet. Still, she directed five shows, taught classes at All-of-us Express, directed Storybook Story Theatre, and ran the company during its grand Tenth Season, all while working 22 hours a week outside the company.

Evelyn at her desk

We need to change this

For the eleventh season we had to scale back to three shows, no Storybook Story Theatre, and Evelyn is teaching no classes other than the audition workshops. She made a tremendous effort to sustain the planned activities for our Tenth Season, but the Board could not ask her to continue that level of effort while she has to work an outside job.

The Board wants to put Evelyn on salary. Ensuring salaries for our permanent staff is a goal of the endowment fund drive, but that will take three to five years to complete. We need to begin paying a salary to our Director sooner than the endowment fund will make possible.

To be able to do this in the short term, we must have contributions from our members and friends. I am asking you to give money specifically to enable us to pay Evelyn.

Our finances are in good shape

All-of-us Express is a very tight ship. This company has never borrowed money, and has never operated 'in the red'. Our Tenth Season, including moving into and repairing our Cedar Park space in Holt, five shows, classes, Storybook Story Theatre, Clown Troupe, and many activities, was all done on a budget of about $55,000.

Our major fundraising events—the golf scramble, rummage sale, silent auctions—have raised money to maintain our office/rehearsal space. We have had to replace two furnaces, a water heater, and make a number of electrical and plumbing repairs. (We pay a substantially reduced rent and are on a month-to-month lease, so the owner does not make such repairs.)

Evelyn at Cosmic Bowling

Our shows are self-supporting. We almost always make money, even if it is only $10 (as we did when the weather conspired against us with last year's Magician's Nephew.) Grants supplement show revenue and allow us to purchase and maintain equipment, do some advertising, and provide tickets to organizations that help needy children and families.

So we support ourselves, but part of that equation has been that we depend on thousands of hours of volunteer effort from a handful of key people, especially from Evelyn.

An exceptional person

Let me embarrass Evelyn here and tell you some things you may not know.

Evelyn made a deliberate decision at one point in her life that theater was what she was going to do. She effectively took a vow of poverty at that point. She lives in the house her mother owned, her car is ten years old, and her wardrobe consists mostly of All-of-us Express T-shirts. Her family and friends help her over the rough spots.

In 1989 Evelyn was asked to start All-of-us Express by the parents of children she taught and worked with. We have been taking advantage of Evelyn's incredible talent, hard work, and generosity ever since.

It is time, past time, to pay Evelyn some fraction of what she is worth to us. We must do this now, to see All-of-us Express through its second decade.

An exceptional company

In 1995 my daughter took a drama class from Evelyn through East Lansing Recreation and Arts, liked Evelyn, and wanted to be in a play. Shy does not begin to describe my daughter. She froze up at her first try at reading for Alice in Wonderland, came back the next day, read, and was cast as an oyster.

All-of-us Express has become an essential part of my children's education (my son is now involved: bronze Cabenth in Dragonsong was his first part). I've watched many other children grow and take on responsibility during and between the 15 shows with which I have been involved. Some of our 'graduates' have opted to pursue degrees in theater.

I want this company to be here for another ten years!

Paying the Director a salary is not only fair to Evelyn, it is necessary to convince major donors that the company has any hope of being able to replace its Director should that need arise. Not that anyone could truly replace Evelyn, but unless we are paying the Director a salary, we cannot even dream of finding a replacement for what is now a full time volunteer job.

Evelyn with Monarth

A modest proposal

The Board has voted to begin paying the Artistic and Executive Director a salary of $10,000 per year, to begin as soon as we have enough set aside for six months. (We cannot ask Evelyn to quit her day job unless we can guarantee six month's income.)

This would be a simple salary. No benefits, no retirement, no fringe benefits. The amount proposed is barely above minimum wage. The current Director has a master's degree, a lifetime of experience in theater, and a true gift for working with children.

Establishing a fund specifically to pay the Director also will allow us to increase the stipends we pay to our Costumer and Set Designer, two other people we cannot expect to be able to replace from off-the-street volunteers.

What you can do

Please make a generous contribution to the Director's Salary Fund. Or you may use the form below to make an "Adopt The Director" pledge, and we will mail you a coupon booklet to remind you to make monthly payments.

Evelyn with Winnie-the-Pooh

The Director's Salary Fund is our immediate need. We also need major gifts to our endowment fund. If you can help with that in any way, please contact me or Evelyn and we will put you in touch with our Fundraising Committee.

Lisa Lees

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Yes! I am contributing to the Director's Salary Fund! Enclosed
please find my one-time contribution in the amount of:

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

and/or my pledge of a monthly contribution in the amount of:

__ $10 ($120 total) __ $25 ($300 total) __ other $___ ($____ total)

Name _____________________________________________________________

Address __________________________________________________________

City ___________________________  State ____  Zip _________-______

May we list you  as a donor in our show programs?  ___ yes  ___ no

Name to list: ____________________________________________________

All-of-us Express is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Your
contribution is deductible to the full extent allowed by law.
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! -----
© 1999 All-of-us Express, 819 Abbot Road, East Lansing MI 48823 USA (517) 394-4118

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