Foothill Theatre Company hits financial trouble

Contributions may be mailed to: Foothill Theatre Company, P.O. Box 1812, Nevada City, CA 95959; or call (530) 265-9320.

The Foothill Theatre Company is in financial trouble and could close its doors, and must raise $90,000 quickly in order to open its next show.

The problem has been building for some years, according to executive director Karen Marinovich. Basically, Foothill has been using the current year’s ticket income to cover the previous year’s debt. Foothill also relied on a $300,000 contract to produce shows for the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival to carry the company financially through the summer.

But last December, the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival hired its own artistic director to produce three summer shows and dropped the contract with Foothill.

Foothill adjusted its plans, trimming the schedule at the company’s Nevada City venue and adopting a bare-bones budget. “We knew it was going to be very tight getting through 2008,” Marinovich said. But the region’s sharp economic slowdown and rising gas prices took a deeper-than-expected toll.

Season ticket sales dropped about 20 percent. “There was also reduced sponsorship money for our shows from companies in real estate and construction,” Marinovich said.

“We also had a large school matinee program,” representing $73,000 of income for Foothill. This year, the schools “were not able to budget money for transportation” to send students to the Nevada Theatre.

“Now we’re in a hole,” Marinovich said.

Foothill is mounting an urgent drive to raise a total of $274,000—enough to “break this cycle and move us forward without dragging the old debt with us,” Marinovich said. “We are releasing a new business plan this week that will show how we will keep this from happening to Foothill again.”