Youngstown Playhouse Finishes Fiscal Year in the Black

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Despite being closed since March 2020 because of the pandemic, The Youngstown Playhouse finished the 2020-21 fiscal year with a net profit of $30,768, based on income of $195,393 and expenses of $164,625.

With ticket sales almost nonexistent, the community theater’s board made ends meet by cutting expenses – temporarily laying off some staff – and obtaining grants, donations and federal relief money.

“Thanks to good management by our treasurers, we are grateful to have come through this in a good financial place,” said Kayla Boye, executive director of the Playhouse.

The theater’s capital campaign, which funds ongoing physical improvements to the building, also remained on pace during the pandemic. According to its annual report released this week, the Playhouse raised $171,462 in the 2020-21 fiscal year toward its exterior renovations project.

It will now seek to raise the final $20,000 needed for the $274,000 phase one capital campaign goal.

The $20,000 will be used to replace the theater’s sign at its parking lot entrance on Glenwood Avenue. Plans call for replacing the aging sign, which requires the wording to be changed manually by a staffer on a ladder, with a digital sign that can be changed electronically. The new sign will have the capability of displaying multiple slides to advertise several shows in rotation and would be much more visible to passersby.

The nonprofit community theater will resume live productions in the fall, and things are looking good in terms of ticket sales.

“We’ve sold 600 tickets in presale so far for [season opener] ‘The Color Purple’ even without any major promotional push,” Boye said. The Playhouse will begin advertising the show – which will be presented Sept. 24 to Oct. 3 at Powers Auditorium – in coming weeks.

The Playhouse moved to a January to December season this year, replacing its former September to June season. It began selling season tickets, dubbed Flex passes because the allotment of tickets can be used for the same show or spread out, in September.

“We have so far sold 250 Flex passes for the 2021 season,” Boye said. “We usually sell between 300 and 450, so we are close to hitting our goal.”

To buy a Flex pass or a ticket for an individual show, go to YoungstownPlayhouse.org or call 330 788 8739.

The first two shows of the 2021 season that will be at the Playhouse will be “Sunset Limited” (Oct. 15-24) and “The Gone Away Place” (Nov. 12-14). Both will be in the intimate Moyer Room, the theater’s black box side stage that has a capacity of about 75.

Audience members will be required to wear a mask for these two shows, Boye said, because of the proximity to the actors. A decision on continuing the mask requirement will be made at a later date for the final two shows of the season in November and December, she said.

For “The Color Purple,” at 2,300-seat Powers, masks will be recommended but not required. “We are following CDC recommendations, but they could change,” Boye said.

The theater made up for the loss of 2020-21 ticket revenue with generous support from government, institutional, corporate and private giving, she said.

According to its annual report, the Playhouse received $50,000 grants from The Youngstown Foundation and the city of Youngstown Community Development Block Grant program. It also received $30,000 from the Frank and Pearl E. Gelbman Charitable Foundation, and $11,000 from the J. Ford Crandall Memorial Foundation.

The Playhouse received $83,458 in institutional support in the past fiscal year, including $50,000 from the U.S. Regional Arts Resilience Fund.

It also received $64,438 in gifts from individuals and $10,250 in corporate contributions.

The capital campaign began in the 2018-19 season, when the theater raised $83,000. That money was used for emergency repairs to the roof, lighting, HVAC system and parking lot at the 62-year-old building, according to the annual report.

Work remaining to be done for phase two includes the resurfacing and painting of the building’s stucco exterior.

Copyright 2021 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.