The Bend -- December 2020
Theatre Chugging Along – The pandemic is still with us, but our beautiful historic theatre is still chugging through it. We want the community to know that we are alive and that we are going to make it through the current crisis. Our board has decided that we should be “open,” even if we are operating at one-quarter speed. Since we reopened in May after two months of closure in the first coronavirus impact, we have staged 85 events and have sold 2798 tickets despite limiting our audiences to 20% of capacity.
Despite that constraint, the events hosted at the theatre are making a little money. That augers well for the day when we can sell our max capacity of 360 seats. We hope that day comes in 2021.
Continued Donations Critical to Survival – Out of the blue, we received a pledge of $3,000 last week. That critically important check is among several dozen that we have received in the past couple of months. We are burning about $12,000 a month to keep our Grand Dame heated, lit, insured, and manned at minimal levels. You all can do math, so you know how much each donation means to our survival. Thanks to every donor, large and small, for keeping us going. We are never going to let The Bend go dark again.
The Shows Go On – We have had some cancellations of events due to COVID-19, but Jeff Potts, our executive director, has been able to fill the bill of entertainment offerings with classic movies, music events, and community meetings. Our capacity limit is 75 and a surprising number of events have filled the theatre to 50% of that level or more. Tickets available at www.thebendwi.org.
As Safe As We Can Be To Date – Our covid containment policies are working to date. By limiting audience size, by spacing out our attendees, by wiping down after every performance, and by wearing masks, we have been able to avoid COVID cases in our theatre. Our air flows with new HVAC equipment are top notch at fresh air exchanges every 14 minutes. The board’s overall goal is to be as safe as a theatre can possibly be. We are fully aware that our supporters will not go to the theatre unless they feel relatively safe.
Welcome, Kathleen and Jefferey – One of our operating beliefs is that we bring in “the wizards,” people with exceptional talents in one dimension of business or leadership. We seek out the best and the brightest. In that vein, our board has elected Kathleen Menter and Jeffrey Packee to board of directors. That brings our total number of directors to 17. Each director has his or her own expertise. We also have an executive committee of seven directors who meet monthly to keep our operations on track. Menter holds a business degree from San Diego State and has done marketing and promotions work for many big name musicians, for the former Strong Fund in Milwaukee, and the West Bend Boys and Girls Club. Mentor owns her own interior decorating business. She worked on the interior design of the theatre during the restoration process. Packee holds a business degree from Marquette University, and has served as an executive or director for numerous businesses and organizations. He is currently the president of the St. Gabriel’s School Council. He is an operations expert and serves on that committee for the theatre. They are already hard at work on taking the physical aspects of the restored theatre going forward. Thanks for serving, Kathleen and Jeffrey.
Our Grantsmanship is Paying Off – Successful grant writing requires tenacity and business smarts. We recently landed two grants worth $108,000 from federal funds collected from the initial bipartisan bailout last spring. Gov. Evers’ office decided to use some of the federal money to keep cultural organizations and entertainment venues alive until the impact of the virus subsides. Earlier grants helped to fund the restoration while recent grants have provided runway to stay in business. We have other grant and donation requests outstanding. Note: the government money alone is not enough.
Enhanced Lighting Systems for Theatre Productions – The West Bend Theatre Company, a local troupe that has performed an initial play at The Bend, is raising funds that will enhance productions on our stage. Its initial theater production went well, and we hope other productions will follow. The Devenport family contributed to the purchase of the new lighting system. Thanks much to both donors.
Publicity Never Hurts – See this excellent TV series on “The Bend.” Get a peep of the interior and bar.