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Apollo seeks concert funding

August 07, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Apollo Civic Theatre officials are hoping an administrative error won't cost the community a second year without a performance by the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, according to theater board president Dale Herman.

Herman asked the Berkeley County Commission Thursday for the county's help in raising an estimated $14,000 to cover the cost of a one-night performance on the orchestra's spring concert tour.

The Charleston, W.Va.-based orchestra has "penciled in" the theater for March 20, 1999, and has agreed to subsidize $2,000 of the $12,700 performance fee, he said.

Other costs to the theater include roughly $136 for the tickets, $500 for publicity and $400 to $500 for the programs, Herman said.

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The West Virginia Arts and Humanities Commission denied the theater's grant request to cover the orchestra performance because the last theater manager incorrectly submitted it as a fund-raiser rather than a community event, he said.

Herman said he was asking both the county and the City of Martinsburg for as much financial help as possible and would also seek a local sponsor for the event.

"I want to get as much as I can to bring the ticket price down to the general public," he said.

Herman blamed the price of the tickets - in the $25 range - for leaving the theater less than half full when the orchestra performed in Martinsburg two years ago.

Only about 200 people came, he said. The theater can seat 550 people.

"I have a little problem with any amount of money for 200 people," Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart said.

Herman said he'd like to be able to price the tickets at $10, which he thinks would make a big difference in filling seats.

But he'll need to raise the difference in order to do that, he said.

The theater isn't in a position to absorb a loss for the performance after losing money on four out of five shows last year because of a lack of grant subsidies, Herman said.

The grants weren't submitted because the theater was in transition and didn't have a manager to write them, he said.

The Martinsburg City Council's budget and finance committee will recommend the City Council donate $1,500 toward the performance at the Aug. 13 council meeting, Martinsburg City Manager Mark Baldwin said Thursday afternoon.

Herman's request came at an opportune time because other budget amendments were being considered, Baldwin said.

The city has given money to the theater in past years, he said.

Herman said he'd like to make the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra's visit an annual event.

The theater is also hoping to present a children's concert in February, he said.

Berkeley County Commission James C. Smith promised Herman an answer from the commission within two weeks.

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