April 23, 2020

A Message from Executive Director Seth Sponhouse

Updates on COVID-19

 

To all the members of our Community Theatre League Family –
 
I hope that you are well right now. We are now over a month into our “Stay At Home” order, so much of what we were used to in our daily lives has been upended, and we can’t really know how – or when – we will be returning to whatever the ‘new normal’ will be.
 
At the same time, we also know that some things will NOT change – foremost being our support for each other in this remarkable community. And, of course, our need for art that uplifts us, entertains us, and unites us. Please know that CTL is here for you now, and we will continue to be here for you tomorrow, this summer, and for years still ahead. So I wanted to be in touch with you all to share what we’re working on and how decisions are being made: What we’ve done, what we’re doing now, and what we’re planning for.
 
Our 2019-2020 Mainstage and Moyer Studio seasons came to an abrupt end when we canceled all performances of our final four shows this season: It Runs in the Family, Matilda: The Musical, An Act of God, and Barefoot in the Park. We also have postponed two productions: Dorothy in Wonderland and CTL’s Penguin Project performance of Annie, Jr. just a week before opening night. We had already invested production costs for all six of these productions. We rely on ticket sales to offset costs and without those revenues, we experienced a substantial financial loss. Those early weeks required so much rapid decision-making, and we are deeply  grateful to our audiences and donor community for putting us into a strong-enough financial position to make some of those difficult decisions a little easier.
 
We are proud to be living our values – especially right now – by:
 
- Continuing our community engagement efforts, even if some programs may need to move online;
 - Keeping our staff at full employment and benefits, while companies around the country are furloughing or laying off their employees; and
 - Moving ahead with confidence to bring all of next season’s plays to our community, even while making contingency plans for ways to ensure that we keep our whole family - audiences, artists, volunteers, students, and staff – safe.
 
As we spend these days and weeks at home, we are hard at work to keep in touch with all of you.

- Developing and recording new episodes of our CTL Speaks! podcast, now streaming everywhere podcasts can be found.

-Beginning a new tradition of “CTLatHome LIVE!” – concerts with artists from our past seasons shared live on Facebook each Friday at 7:30pm, and available to watch at any time.

- Establishing the Ray of Hope Virtual Choir – for middle and high schoolers - through a partnership with the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit.

- Developing at-home learning and activities for students to take part in through our educational branch, Community Academy of Stage and Theatre
 
As we look – with no small amount of uncertainty – at the season ahead, many of you have been asking us “how can we help?” And one answer rises to the very top: be involved. How can you be involved? 
Purchase a gift card for our upcoming season of shows. Consider gifting those gift cards to a friend who’s really got your back right now.
Tune in to our concerts Friday night on Facebook.
Share our social media posts on your page.
Tell a friend why you can’t wait to be back with us. 


All of our artistic and financial successes to date can be traced back to the loyalty of our volunteers and patrons. Your commitment to come with us on our theatrical journeys lets us plan for each new season with confidence and boldness. We depend on that commitment under any circumstances, but never more so than right now.
 
I want to ensure you that we are determined to honor your commitment to CTL by doing everything in our power to bring you next season’s amazing productions AND keep everyone in our community safe. We’re guaranteeing easy exchanges, and refunds for any cancelled performances. We’re partnering with the River Valley Transit’s hardworking facilities staff and our friends at Choice Carpet Cleaners to make sure that when the theaters reopen, they are sanitized and operated in accordance with all health guidelines. We’re negotiating with our national unions and licensing houses to explore alternative methods of sharing our stories. And we’re developing flowcharts for every imaginable scenario (oh, the many, many scenarios!) so that we are well-positioned to nimbly and transparently respond to whatever lies ahead.
 
Amidst all this uncertainty, here are some things I know for sure: our audiences and volunteers are among the best anywhere in the world. We are committed to doing right by ALL of you. 
 
And when the day  comes that we can be together again to laugh, connect, and revel in our shared experiences. We will all find happiness again.
 
Here’s to that day. 
 
Seth E. Sponhouse
Executive Director