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Chambersburg's Capitol Theatre faces changes without financial help

December 19, 2012|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — With two weeks remaining in its annual Be A Star! Giving campaign, the Capitol Theatre Center must raise $60,500 or face significant changes to the downtown Chambersburg mainstay.

With almost half of the theater’s $125,000 goal to be raised by Dec. 31, one thing Theater Manager Linda Boeckman made clear.

“We’re not closing. We have opportunities to do lots of things, but we’re certainly not closing,” she said

While fundraising efforts started off strong with $54,000 raised by October, only $10,500 was raised between Nov. 21 and Dec. 18, she said.

In an economy with so many organizations struggling to make ends meet, the theater is faced with trying to raise funds as well.

“We’ve talked to some of our biggest supporters, and there are a lot of other great organizations this year that they are supporting. That is affecting us the most dramatically,” she said. “Not that they don’t want to support the theater — they are supporting us in much smaller ways than they have in the past because there are other organizations that have more immediate needs.”

If the $60,500 is not raised by Dec. 31, theater organizers said changes will be necessary depending on the financial gap between what is raised and the $125,000 goal.

“I think our biggest challenge will be finding ways to change how we operate to offset the lack of fundraising we are going to accomplish. That’s probably the hardest part because we’re going to have to rethink some of the things we do,” Boeckman said.

 She said the following measures are strongly being considered if the goal is not met:
• A dramatic reduction in the future booking of programming with a focus on more local and less national touring shows
• Staff reductions (hours and services)
• A re-evaluation of the building use privileges by other organizations
• A reduction in community outreach previously provided by the Capitol Theater

“They’re not all set in stone and we’re still talking about them, but we’re definitely trying to figure out how to make things as good as we can for the situation that we’re in,” Boeckman said.

With only so much community money to spread around, theater organizers are trying to find creative ways to shore up the financial shortfall if the $125,000 goal is not met.

“We’re working on ways to ensure that we still have a great community treasure, but in a way that we ensure it’s going to be around here for 85 more years,” Boeckman said.

Boeckman said the theater board and organizers have discussed conducting a year-round fundraising campaign rather than the three-month Be A Star!

She said some businesses have expressed interest in sponsorships that would offset the cost of shows, marketing and shows and help with outreach.

Last year’s Be A Star! fundraising program fell $20,000 short of its goal, but Boeckman refuses to give up hope on hitting the goal this year.

“You never say never, because we’ve had some extremely generous donors who have walked in in the most unpredictable times, and made us basically fall off our chairs,” Boeckman said.

“If we get 60 people to give $1,000 or $1,000 people to give $60 or 2,000 to give $30 — we’re there. It’s possible — it’s just finding those extra people who are willing to give us an extra $25 or $30 and those pennies make dollars. We appreciate every donation — we truly do,” she said.

Any currently contracted and advertised Capitol Theater shows, contracted rentals and Wood Center rentals for private events will take place, Boeckman said.

To donate to the Be A Star! campaign, make checks payable to Capitol Theater Center Foundation, and mail then by Dec. 31 to Be A Star! Campaign, Capitol Theater Center, 159 S. Main St., Chambersburg, PA 17201. Gifts also can be made online at www.thecapitoltheatre.org. Gifts are tax-deductible.

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