AMERICAN THEATRE | Taproot Theatre Campaigns to Save Its Season and Its Future

by Admin
AMERICAN THEATRE | Taproot Theatre Campaigns to Save Its Season and Its Future

Taproot Theatre.

SEATTLE: Earlier this year, Taproot Theatre, a $3.5 million theatre incorporated both as a nonprofit theatre and a parachurch organization (a Christian faith-based outfit which works outside of church oversight and across denominations), sounded an alarm about its future with an emergency fundraising campaign. Now they’ve launched what they called “a comprehensive plan to shrink the gap between the rising cost of business and lagging post-pandemic arts recovery.” In a release and on their website, Taproot says that in order to complete the 2024 season and successfully launch the 2025 season, they’ll have to raise $1.95 million through grants, corporate sponsorships, and donations by the end of December—a 62.5 percent increase over previous years.

According to their statement, Taproot typically raises around $1.2 million dollars annually from grants, foundations, corporate sponsors, and individual donors. But the cost of producing has increased exponentially since the start of the pandemic. For example, Taproot says they’ve seen annual payroll costs increase by $750,000 since 2019 due to changes in minimum wage, union wages, and the introduction of an understudy program crucial for plays to stay open amid the pandemic and its effects. Taproot reports that their audience return rate since the end of pandemic lockdowns is higher than 80 percent, and their current show, Sherlock Holmes and the Precarious Position, announced an extension even before it opened.

“We hear over and over how much people love coming to Taproot Theatre, but ticket sales are only part of the equation, and audiences returning to the theatre doesn’t solve the entire problem of exponentially rising costs of producing theatre,” said producing artistic director Karen Lund in a statement.

Since summer 2023, the theatre has reduced staff hours, left vacant positions unfilled, and tried to program shows with smaller cast sizes to save money, all while tapping their largest donors for help. Since launching a “tiered emergency fundraising campaign,” they’ve raised $700,000 of their $1.95 million goal.

“I worry that Taproot will be forced to shrink to stay open and lose vital programming,” said Lund in the statement, citing a statewide school touring that targets bullying prevention, which served more than 72,600 students this year; an acting studio that provides arts education to more than 350 youth a year; and their Re-Ignite the Mind classes, for people with early-stage memory loss.

Added Chris Maykut of the Phinney Neighborhood Association in a statement, “Taproot Theatre is a vital and beloved organization that is at the heart of our thriving business district and connective neighborhood. For over 25 years, Taproot has been producing high-quality theatre on 85th Street in Greenwood, while also being generous and community-focused. Their presence is an essential part of what makes PhinneyWood special.”

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