Dear Friends of the Spring Lake Community House & Theatre,
In mid-March, COVID-19 plunged our theatre into darkness together with the lives of many of us. During the darkest days of World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt, promoting a post-war UN, said, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” We agree, so we went to work. We moved promptly to protect our patrons, performers, staff, and students by postponing all productions even though the loss of ticket sales had a negative impact on our major source of income. Student classes went virtual so staff and students could continue to teach and learn safely. We applied for and received Payroll Protection Program assistance to pay our staff. Finally, we postponed our planned kitchen renovation and closed the building to save on costs and to prevent social gatherings.
Receiving the PPP assistance ensured we could maintain stability in the short term. However, there were so many groups and organizations in need of immediate help. So we turned our attention to helping them. On March 18th, our theatre and dance students thanked medical workers in a video featuring songs, dances, and signs from their homes. The video appeared on our website and social media, and was sent to local hospitals. On April 12th, we presented Concert for a Cause, a virtual concert dedicated to raising funds for Interfaith Neighbors, a charity providing meals and vital social services in Asbury Park. The concert featured musical acts performed by artists who have starred in various shows with Spring Lake Theatre Company. The video drew over 7,000 views and has raised over $5,000 to date.
After the success of the first concert, we decided to create a series of them, each helping to support a new cause. Concert for a Cause: Act 2 premiered April 24th and raised funds for Feed the Front Line: Jersey Shore, a fundraising campaign to help purchase food and necessary provisions for frontline medical workers. Meals were purchased from local restaurants, thereby also helping to support local businesses. Concert for a Cause: Act 3 premiered May 17th and helped to support Hackensack Meridian Health’s COVID-19 response fund. Presenting these concerts gave us a new way to spread theatre and joy while also giving back to our community.
When we closed down the Community House at the start of this crisis, we made a promise to the students and families in our theatre and dance programs. We promised that we would find a way to produce their musical performances and dance recitals this summer if restrictions loosened enough to allow for it. We now intend to make good on that promise.
We will be presenting all of our student theatre and dance performances outdoors this summer, using the beautiful Community House as our backdrop. Outdoor performances will ensure the safety of our students, teachers, and attendees. All proper safety precautions have been put in place, and classes have already resumed on the grounds. This is not the way any of us imagined we would be presenting these productions, but we are happy for our students that they will be able to complete their year in theatre and dance.
This crisis is temporary. Following our all-female production of 1776 in January, we postponed our spring production of Monty Python’s Spamalot. We remain hopeful we will be able to present Spamalot in October, with our 38th annual production of Scrooge following in December. When we do reopen, we promise to take every precaution to ensure the safety of our patrons, staff, students, and performers. We plan to install top of the line technology to ensure that the Community House remains a safe space where we can gather together to enjoy theatre again.
This year promises to be different, and the loss of ticket sales has a significant and immediate impact on our finances. We chose to reach out and help others during this crisis because we knew we had the talent and ability to do so without depleting our cash reserves. We are now at a point where we need to start planning for our own future again. We hope you will support us as we resume our ongoing mission to bring the performing arts to our community at the Jersey Shore. You can support the Spring Lake Community House and Theatre here. From all of us here at the Community House and Theatre, I wish you a safe and happy summer and I hope to see you at our theatre again soon.
Patricia Barry President / Executive Director