Ann Arbor’s 27-year old, nonprofit Performance Network Theatre is in a race against time. By next Wednesday, the Performance Network must raise $40,000 to keep its actors working and its stage busy.

Rob Migrin/Daily
Technical Director Janine Wood Thoma and Apprentice Mike Cichen construct the set for the upcoming show Fences at the Ann Arbor Performance Network on Thursday, April 9th, 2009.

Carla Milarch, the executive director of the Performance Network, said the theater company has been suffering from a decrease in state art funding and corporate support for the last few years. But Milarch said the Performance Network has been able to stay in business because of individual donations and special event fundraisers.

But with the current economic crisis, the Performance Network has seen those donations slip away.

“We took some significant hits in our last few months in a couple of key areas and so what that has done is basically change our revenue projection for the end of the year,” she said.

To try to compensate for the decrease in revenue, the Performance Network has slashed employee bonuses and parking subscriptions, Milarch said. She added that to eliminate more spending, the Performance Network has postponed the date of its seventh show of the 2008-2009 season. The show will be the opener for the 2009-2010 season instead.

“There are a number of different ways across the board that we’ve cut budgets and done all the cost saving that we can do without making major compromises to the structure of the organization,” she said.

But it hasn’t been enough. Milarch said to raise the $40,000 by next Wednesday, the Performance Network has launched a grassroots campaign that calls for assistance from the Ann Arbor community.

The Performance Network hopes to raise $20,000 from both old and new community supporters. For every dollar raised, the Performance Network will match the contribution with money from a $20,000 grant raised by leading community supporters and the Performance Network’s board of directors, she said.

To get the word out, Milarch said the Performance Network is taking advantage of every available resource it can. Milarch added that the campaign calls on old and new sponsors alike to make any contribution that they can.

“We’ve had everything from a dollar to $750 gifts,” she said.

According to Milarch, as of 1 p.m. on Thursday, the Performance Network had raised $4,900.

“We are just trying to keep the momentum going,” she said.

Milarch said the company’s board of directors will meet at the end of the campaign next week to discuss the Performance Network’s future. If the goal of $40,000 has not been met, she said the board might consider closing the Performance Network.

If all goes well with the campaign, the Performance Network will continue to fundraise after the Wednesday deadline, Milarch said. Performance Network officials hope to raise $150,000 through grants from foundations, fundraiser events and private underwritings by Oct. 1.

She said the Performance Network is hoping to collect as much as $75,000 of the $150,000 from new sources.

Milarch said anyone who is interested in making a donation can directly call the Performance Network or visit its website

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