the state of things at HUGE
It’s almost the end of the month, which means it’s time for another Rent Party!
Josh rightly pointed out at the last Rent Party that everything we do at HUGE is to make the rent and we should really just party together all the time. I happen to agree – but the final Friday of the month is “officially” Pay What You Can night and Rent Party!
Seems like it’s worth updating the state of HUGE – last time I posted where we were it was all doom and gloom. People’s reactions were varied but everyone was incredibly supportive and appreciated the openness with which we’re able to handle being in some serious trouble. We can still be open, even about diminishing trouble and I want to still be very careful about how I phrase things to avoid giving people the idea that we are not depending on support still. We very much are. While my tone may be lighter these days, I am never joking when I say that HUGE Theater depends on you. We are doing everything we can but have to issue the call for help as the end of the month nears – but this blog will include some good news and hopefully some encouraging signs.
We are still digging out of the hole (which is not the best way out of a hole, FYI) we found ourselves in this summer, the surge of support got us out of immediate danger with the landlord and more…but we exist in a state of relatively immediate danger at all times.
We are still paying rent in payments as we have money and the landlord is still cool with that but there are a number of things looking up as we move forward, hopefully this will all help you feel good about throwing more money into HUGE, knowing that things actually are improving.
The rent went down! Ticket prices went up!
As of September 1st our rent actually decreased – it was elevated up until now as we were paying 12 months of rent in 10 months, that was the deal to get 2 months deferred when we moved in. We made it a year, the rent is down and it feels good.
We did raise the ticket prices for Friday and Saturday nights – and I think we did it right this time. People are coming to the shows in growing numbers, the difference it makes to our financial situation was immediately apparent and I can stop holding my breath that we were going to turn our broke theater into an ex-theater in one sweeping change. Whew.
SOME debt is coming to an end!
Our debt situation began as soon as we started building – and we’ve avoided getting into more long term debt by running on volunteers, love and an inability to know when to give up.
So far we have been able to run without shouldering small business loans that we would have to pay on a rigid schedule and without the personal involvement and flexibility we get from our landlord. We did have to take on small loans to pay back the construction company that got us up and running in such a hurry, we were loaned $10K by a former employer of mine that wanted to help us all chase our dreams – he lent us the money at an insanely (almost non-existent) interest rate and has flexible about late payments when we hit the wall this summer as well.
That loan will be paid in full at the end of this year and will give us a little more breathing room in our finances each month, which means depending less and less on last-ditch appeals to you, our loyal supporters, as we scratch one more regular bill off the list.
Full disclosure – we have one other loan, it ends in May.
For how difficult our finances can be, I’m extremely proud of that, at least. I think any other company would have racked up a mountain of bank debt by this point and we’re able to look ahead to the days when we’re free of our startup debt and able to focus on sustaining the theater instead of paying off something that happened last year.
membership details rolled out!
We are able to tell people what they get in exchange for becoming a member of HUGE Theater for the first time, and now we just have to get everyone on board. *Ahem…cue Gary Oldman…*
This is one of those areas I feel we become white noise to the audience, even still when we have real details and benefits we can show them. I feel like people hear that their support keeps things going and keeps prices low so often but they see no real, immediate impact of their support (or withdrawl of support) and it all starts to sound like a sales pitch instead of a statement of how this works.
To that, I wanted to add something to the member benefits to address that very idea – the goal of the membership program is still set at the annual lease amount, meaning members are contributing directly to keeping the theater open. But I want to act on the idea of contributions keeping the prices down so….if (or rather, when) our membership program reaches 100% of our goal, then the IAGG tickets will return to their traditional price of $1.
I love that show, I feel like it was really vitally important that the price was $1 to allow people a risk-free chance to see and experience improv. But I also know that we wouldn’t be anywhere near making the rent if we had allowed my sentiment to steer that conversation. We needed that increase to make the rent.
So, Members. That is what your support will do – it will not only keep this theater open for a year, if you help us make the rent that way, we can provide a zero-barrier show to see improv of all kinds. That is a very real impact you can have on how this place runs.
In summary – this Friday
this Friday is Pay What You Can Night, starting at 8pm. Come see the shows and throw some extra in the jar for HUGE. Afterward, join us for the age-old tradition of serving beer and dancing in order to pay the bills.
We have a goal, while the number is much more modest than last time, the need for us to raise that amount is still just as real. We need to raise $2500 this weekend and we can totally do it.
And we can have more fun than anyone else while we are doing it…Join us.
If you cannot make it, please give online to our virtual rent party.
Then turn the lights down, turn the music up and virtually dance a little.