As one of the first industries to close in March 2020, the live performing arts was also among the last to reopen fully, creating a devastating financial impact.
With the loss of performances, events and patron services, and therefore all associated earned revenue, the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center took immediate action to reduce expenses by $2.5 million including renegotiating contracts, transitioning the workforce and more. Even with reduced expenses, delivering the Center's mission virtually, addressing the fixed costs of maintaining the building and making upgrades for health and safety to prepare for reopening, resulted in $5.89 million of expenses over the course of the building closure.
The Act 2 Fund was established in 2020 to address this loss and in July 2021 a group of generous community leaders created a gift match challenge to fulfill the need. This group included Kate and Tom Burgess, Ryan and Marissa Downs, Angelo and Jennifer Ninivaggi/Plexus Corp., Kathi Siefert and Cathie Tierney/Community First Credit Union.
"The Fox Cities Performing Arts Center is thankful to the generosity of our matching gift donors for their unwavering support while the ghost light remained glowing on our stage. I thank the Center staff for their confidence and belief that the Center would once again be serving our community through exceptional live in-person experiences. As the effects of the pandemic continue to challenge our community, especially their mental health and wellbeing, the Center will continue to develop programs that serve our community. Thanks to the community's support, we can focus on continuing to build and strengthen relationships that will carry the Center into the future, " said Maria Van Laanen, president and CEO of the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center.
FINANCIAL STORY OF THE EXTENDED INTERMISSION
The Center worked diligently to secure additional financial resources through federal, state and local programs including two PPP loans (both have been forgiven), two grants from the State of Wisconsin, grant funding from Arts Midwest, the Wisconsin Arts Board and the National Endowment for the Arts, funding from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, a grant from the Fox Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau and several grants from the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region. In addition, individuals and businesses have supported the Act 2 Fund since it was announced in 2020. These grants and donations covered necessary expenses related to virtual delivery of the mission and offset the negative financial impact of the pandemic and the necessary capital improvements to address health and safety upgrades for the building’s reopening. A list of these generous supporters can be found on the Center's website.
DELIVERING THE ARTS VIRTUALLY DURING THIS EXTENDED INTERMISSION
Throughout the extended intermission, the Center remained committed to finding new ways to deliver its mission. The Community First Community Engagement Series held virtual and a few outdoor in-person activities that celebrated diverse music and art, shared inspirational stories in the weekly The Show Must Go On Show and reached patrons of all ages and backgrounds from Northeast Wisconsin and beyond. The Amcor Education Series continued to educate more than 16,000 students and connect educators with integrated teaching tools through the arts with complimentary and virtual programs. Educators from 22 schools participated in monthly Teachers’ Lounge events. The Center Stage High School Musical Theater Program welcomed a record number of 24 high schools, impacting more than 1,400 students from nine counties throughout Northeast Wisconsin.
“As an organization whose vision is to bring people together to enjoy the inspiration of a shared live experience, the pandemic has been especially devastating. We heard how much so many community members and artists looked to the arts to provide a chance for healing, reconnecting and rebuilding which motivated us to find new ways to present engagement opportunities virtually until the time we could safely gather in person again,” Van Laanen said. “Through the support of our community and the Act 2 Fund, we can look toward the future optimistically and ensure that we will be there for all in our communities.”
More information about how the Center delivered its mission through the extended intermission is available at foxcitiespac.com/virtualmission.