carter_PNT_2014_0017Long before the “New” Network team took over operations of the theatre in 2014 the Performance Network had a history of producing quality award winning professional theatre. Beginning operations over 30 years ago, the organization started out as a collaborative of artists committed to providing the Ann Arbor community with theatrical entertainment while developing local artists. As with most performing arts organizations the Network was no stranger to financial hardship but even through tough economic times the collaborative spirit survived eventually leading the company to its current location in downtown Ann Arbor and achieving Union status in 1998. The theatre is a beloved cultural icon for residents and visitors alike and an integral part of a vibrant downtown district.

Over the last several years financial turbulence once again surrounded the theatre and paralyzed by mounting debt the Board of Directors suspended operations in May 2014.  It soon became evident that the organization faced a hard decision- close the doors forever or find a new way forward.  After this brief but necessary suspension, on June 18, 2014 a new business model and a dedicated three person team were chosen to lead the Network.

So battling a mountain of debt and re-starting communications with questioning patrons, donors and ticket holders this latest incarnation of Performance Network began. With almost no information or access to patron/donor records and even before the company signed a new lease and regained access to the theatre in August the company began reconnecting with patrons and donors, repairing trust and revitalizing the company. Only through the massive collaborative effort of staff, volunteers and the Board did information begin to reach supporters and a new 2014-2015 season was announced.

However, even with new critically acclaimed shows being produced and over 225 performance dates the first year, Performance Network’s financial situation remains tenuous at best. The new business plans includes paying off the pre-existing debt as well as expanded revenue generating programming but the hard reality is during this rebuilding phase we are living paycheck to paycheck trying to keep the lights on.

Even non-profits without an inherited debt only generate 50% of needed operational funds through ticket sales, obviously the Network need is greater. Our unearned income comes from grants and sponsorships but the vast majority from generous individual donors-like you.

Performance Network is not asking for donations to produce our shows, we’ll earn that, we want to earn that. We are asking for your help keeping the lights on, paying the insurance, the phone bill and just being able to afford the basic necessities to keep the doors open for all the wonderful possibilities we want to bring you. We are confident as we re-imagine and revitalize the theatre that the future is brighter than ever.

So, now it’s up to you to decide if Performance Network is something you want in your life and your community. Buy tickets, donate, volunteer– join your Network. Our team will be here creating the high quality entertainment and cultural programming you’ve come to expect-we hope you’ll join us.

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