Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Notions I Subscribe To

Notions I Subscribe To

This past Friday evening, I was about to start eating dinner when the phone rang.

I don't ordinarily answer my phone during meals -- heck, ask anyone if I answer the telephone at all, and they're bound to tell you I don't -- but when I checked the caller ID, I found an unknown 212 area code number ending in a zero pop up on the screen. I don't know what possessed me to answer, but I did.

Twenty minutes later, I found myself as a new subscriber to the Manhattan Theatre Company. To be honest, it wasn't really a very hard sell. I've enjoyed quite a few outstanding, and usually always riveting productions -- mostly at their restored Biltmore Theatre on Broadway, but also a couple over at New York City Center Stage I.

Of course, this is no ordinary subscription where I'm merely paying for tickets (in this case a grand total of 14 for seven productions over the coming year). The lion's share of what I agreed to is a charitable donation for this rarest of rare commodities on the Great White Way: a not-for-profit theatre company.

As you may recall from my nonstop coverage of the recent Broadway stagehands strike, the Manhattan Theatre Club is one of only three non-profit Rialto theatre companies. The other two are Lincoln Center and Roundabout Theatre Company -- both renowned for their range of musical and straight play offerings.

Quite frankly, I love to give. Period.

If you ask me what I would most like to be when I "grow up," I'd probably tell you I wish I could be a philanthropist. While there's nothing quite as admirable as volunteer work, my long work hours just don't enable me to physically offer my helping hand as often as I'd like.

So instead, I try to give as much as I possibly can to the 501(c)(3) organizations that I believe can make a difference, whether it's in helping feed those less fortunate or in providing medical care, or in finding a cure for any number of diseases. Or, naturally, the one where I hope others can be challenged and enlightened, as well as entertained: live theatre.

This is the second not-for-profit theatre company to which I currently subscribe and donate. For the past three years, I've proudly supported Chicago's Steppenwolf -- a worthy investment in the arts if ever there was one. I've never doubted for one moment that every penny I've donated has been worth it. If ever I had second thoughts, they were dashed when I saw how involved Steppenwolf is with its local community, particularly through its outreach to Chicagoland's middle and high schools via its Subscriber School Program.

My only other subscription ever was with Minneapolis' Guthrie. But that was years before they moved into their incredible new facility. Yet I know the vital role this institution has taken on in the Twin Cities, and their own incredible profile of community involvement only continues to grow.

So what was it about the Manhattan Theatre Club that inspired me to give? They asked me.

Which leads me to ask you, have you ever subscribed and/or donated to a nonprofit theatre? I'd love to know which ones and why you subscribed.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 23 January, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

I purchased a subscription to The Roundabout last year. The two years prior found me paying full price for their productions, so it seemed the sensible thing to do. It was a great investment - it was the year of 110 In The Shade, The Apple Tree and Prelude To A Kiss.

And then there are the countless volunteer hours that I have given to local non-profit theatres in the form of marketing consultancy and artistic contributions.

I do it because I, like you, enjoy giving and feel it is tremendously important to support organizations driven by passion for theatre, not the almighty dollar.

At 23 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Alicia, I have to say I envy you. I would love to be able to spend time volunteering. But I sure enjoy seeing how my donations are going to excellent use.

Are you still subscribing to Roundabout? And if not, I'd be curious to know why.

At 24 January, 2008, Blogger Alicia said...

We didn't renew our subscription this year, although my "beloved Roundabout" calls me all the time to do so. Basically, I didn't renew because most of Roundabout's shows end up on TDF while in previews and we thought that might be the more economical approach.

We shall see...

At 24 January, 2008, Blogger judidavi said...

Like, Steve, I received a phone call from MTC one day, asking if I would like to become an MTC patron. We had been subscribing to MTC for several years by this time. I kept telling the person on the other end to call me back because I couldn't make up my mind. He was very persistent and it paid off for MTC. My reason was because we had enjoyed so many good shows and it just seemed like the right thing to do. And, you do get the feeling of being treated with special care and it is much easier to make changes when necessary. They also provide comfortable lounges for pre-show and mid-show needs. And, for those who may work for companies who match donations to the arts, that becomes another source of income for MTC.

At 24 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Alicia, I certainly can't fault you for finding a more economical way.

At 24 January, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Judidavi, Thanks so much for your insights. Between your comments and the very personable call I took earlier today from Samantha at MTC, I'm pretty psyched that I'll get to know MTC a lot better.

At 25 January, 2008, Anonymous BroadwayBaby said...

Subscribing for Roundabout and MTC is a great way of getting great seats for shows that could become sellouts. I live in LA and subscribe to a few non-profits and donate money as well. Rarely does a show or a play sell out in LA but I like to support small non-profit theatres. The 99-seat Fountain theatre in Los Angeles, for example, is probably one of the finest small theatres in the US- despite being in a run-down building, and working off a limited budget, the theatre's productions have won awards and acclaim in Edinburgh and NY as well as in LA.


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