Even before the “New” Network team took over operations of the theatre in July of 2014 the Performance Network had a history of producing quality professional theatre. Beginning operations over 30 years ago, the organization started out as a collaboration of artists committed to providing the Ann Arbor community with theatrical entertainment and developing local artists. As with most performing arts organizations the Network was no stranger to financial hardship but even through tough economic times the collaboration survived, eventually moving to its current location in downtown Ann Arbor and achieving Union status in 1998. The theatre is a beloved icon for residents and visitors alike, providing off-broadway quality entertainment and receiving a myriad of artistic accolades and awards. Over the last several years financial turbulence once again surrounded the theatre and in 2014 found itself paralyzed by incredible debt. In order to assess the situation and regroup the Board of Directors suspended operations in May 2014, and it soon became evident that the organization faced a hard decision- close the doors forever or find a new way forward. The Board of Directors heard three different proposals on how the Performance Network might move forward and on June 18, 2014 John Manfredi’s new business model and three person team were chosen to lead the Network out of the darkness.
So the New Network began its tenure battling a mountain of debt and strained relations with donors and patrons. Initially all communication about the state of the Network had been halted as the Board sought to have definitive answers to the questions so many were asking. What happened? Is the Network closed? What about the cancelled shows? What happens to my subscription? Re-starting communications proved difficult for new management as initially there was a lack of any contact information or access to patron/donor records. But through the massive effort of staff, volunteers and the Board information began to reach patrons, donors and ticket holders. Slowly but surely the New Network is reconnecting with patrons and donors, repairing trust and revitalizing the company.
However, even with improved communications and new critically acclaimed shows being produced the financial situation remains tenuous at best. Three quarters of the money that comes in must be used to satisfy the hundreds of thousands of dollars of the previous management’s debt. The hard reality is that Performance Network is living week to week just hoping to make payroll and keep the lights on.
We’re not asking for money to produce our shows, we’ll earn that, we want to earn that. We want you to help us raise funding to put in the bank and ‘get ahead’ of the debt. That’s what our annual campaign is all about- keeping the lights on, paying insurance, the phone bill… being able to afford the basic necessities to keep the doors open.
We are confident this 2014-2015 season will be our most challenging as we re-imagine and revitalize the theatre, and we know that the future is brighter than ever. With your help during our annual campaign the new Network will not only return but surpass it’s iconic position in the minds and hearts of the Ann Arbor cultural community.
What is the Network?
Performance Network is an award winning professional non-profit theatre located in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor, Michigan. A producing regional theatre with a subscription season of established and new works the Network also offers holiday performances, youth programming and hosts the Northern Writers Project each fall. A cultural leader in the Midwest, the Network is the home of dark night programs such as; musical acts, comedy, film, poetry, concert readings and is a cultural destination for all ages.
With a dedicated staff, supportive board of directors, and the finest Michigan artists, we believe theatre is a necessity, not a luxury and theatre has the power to change lives. We welcome you to join our family and mission by becoming a volunteer, donor, or audience member!