The shows will go on: Natchez Little Theatre takes funding cutPublished 12:01am Sunday, November 18, 2012
NATCHEZ — The Natchez Little Theatre has felt the effects of tightened government funding and in turn, the people behind the curtains have had to put their creativity to more than just producing plays.
The theater did not qualify this year for state and federal grants upon which it has relied on in past years, Executive Director Layne Taylor said.
“This is the first year, since I’ve been here we didn’t receive a grant,” Taylor said. “We are preparing to try again next year.”
Taylor said Natchez Little Theatre missed out on potentially $30,000 by not getting the funding.
“Our budget ranges from $114,000 to as much as $150,000 from year-to-year,” Taylor said. “It’s like taking a 20-percent loss.”
Money from the theater’s budget not only goes to the normal utility bills, such as electricity and water, but also toward expenses for productions, like lighting, costumes and materials.
Taylor said getting grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts also allows the theater to promote its educational outreach program and fund its summer youth workshop.
“We bring in close to 9,000 students throughout the year to see plays through the outreach program,” Taylor said.
Although Taylor is confident the theater will get the grants next year, he said the amount might not be as much and they may become more difficult to get.
“It all depends on how much the Mississippi Legislature and the U.S. Congress puts aside,” Taylor said. “I think it’s going to get harder to get the full amount.”
Even with the shortfalls in federal and state funding, Taylor said the theater has yet to cut back on any performances.
“We are a unique non-profit organization, because we have benefit performances for other non-profits where 100 percent of the proceeds go to them,” Taylor said. “I’m proud of the things we are able to give back to the community.”
“We’ve had to do a few for ourselves this year,” Taylor said.
Taylor said with the help of the theater’s board of directors and community involvement, the theater has not had to cut back on the number of productions or the quality of work.
“The theater is most fortunate because we have strong support from city and county government and the people of Natchez,” Taylor said. “We have an outstanding and very active board of directors.
“We are very thankful to the community.”
He said some of the ways the theater has been fortunate have come in the form of donations, using what they have available and finding funds through other organizations.
“We are in the process of talking to Walmart, Entergy and CSpire for potential grants,” Taylor said. “It hasn’t been easy. But not being easy makes for better theater.”
Natchez Little Theatre’s next production is “A Natchez Christmas Carol.” Shows begin at 7 p.m. Dec. 7-8, 14-15 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16.
Tickets are $15. For more information, call 601-442-9556 or go to www.natchezlittletheatre.org.