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Crafty theatre fundraising: Two Thousand Tens for Furious

March 10, 2010

When you need to raise $20,000 and the year is 2010, someone might just come up with a catchy phrase. Something like “Two Thousand Tens.” Someone did. 

Nick Cernoch, a member of Furious Theatre Company in Pasadena, says the need to raise money became critical when its benefactor, the Pasadena Playhouse, went dark. Furious occupies the Carrie Hamilton Theatre, a small space adjacent to the Playhouse, but occupancy has been in doubt for the past two months. “We had enough money to take care of our current show, Men of Tortuga. But after that,” Cernoch says, “we need cash.” 

Part of the need to raise funds is that Furious last year initiated an Actors Equity contract for its show, Hunter Gatherers. Cernoch says, “Our board wanted to pay actors a more professional rate, not just $14 a show. We applied for County grants, which supported some of our growth, and now we pay actors about $160 a week.” 

More pay, even when it’s not a living wage (but in theatre, does such a thing exist?), means potentially better actors. “It makes it easier to draw film and TV actors,” Cernoch notes. “And we’d love to see this get to be more of a living wage. But you see that only at places like Center Theatre Group, The Geffen, and La Jolla Playhouse. Theatres, like ours, are a long way from that.” 

“We’ve been talking to officials with the City of Pasadena who’ve helped behind the scenes with the building’s owner,” Cernoch says. “We pay $6,000 a month now in rent for the Carrie Hamilton,” originally a gift from Carol Burnett in honor of her late daughter. “We hope to be able to stay in the space,” Cernoch adds, “but we can only if we can raise the money.” 

Furious’ next production is scheduled to be Boom by Peter Nachtrieb who also wrote Hunter Gatherers. “This will be an LA premiere for us, IF we can raise the money. We got off to a good start, but we need another jump,” Cernoch says. “Big gifts would be great, but just imagine if everybody in LA gave a nickel to theatre. You know how much money that would raise? [Well, about $200,000 if you count only LA city residents…].  Boom’s already run at Woolly Mammoth, Dallas, and San Diego Repertory. With any luck, with two thousand people giving just ten bucks each, we’ll open in mid-May.” 

That’s mid-May of Twenty Ten.

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