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Dear Baxter Friend!
I hope that you are safe and well.
I am writing to you, as one who appreciates, supports and enjoys the arts and theatre.
May I start by saying that I am cautiously reaching out to you, well aware of the context of our difficult times, both in our country and in the world. Not for a moment is my letter a priority, in comparison to the people of our country, who are in dire need of financial assistance.
I write with regards to our future and the future of the arts. I am sure you will agree that when this pandemic is over, the arts will play a significant role in finding meaning, healing and bringing communities together, in celebration of our humanity.
Allow me to go back to before the pandemic struck:
At the beginning of March, I was asked to attend a meeting with the Vice Chancellor of UCT, Prof Mamokgheti Phakeng. The subject of the meeting was the sustainability of The Baxter, and a way forward to becoming far less dependent on the university for funding. Whilst the university appreciates The Baxter, understandably, there are more pressing financial obligations.
Now, with the coronavirus pandemic, I don’t believe The Baxter will be fully operational again till next year and you can imagine how urgent this has become.
As you may well know, The Baxter is not funded by the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, like Artscape, The Market and other state theatres are, neither does it qualify for funding from the National Lottery Commission. The university generously allocates The Baxter a grant of approximately one-third of our annual operational expenses. The rest of our expenses are paid from our annual income, which includes: ticket sales, donations, theatre rentals and interest on our Permanent Endowment Fund.
We are the most active theatre in the country, presenting over 3 000 performances a year, with a growing international reputation. We are also the most diverse theatre in the country, when it comes to programming and audience members. We do this with a small and dedicated staff, all of us working two or three portfolios at the same time. (It is interesting to note that our staff complement is half the size of any similar-size theatres in the country).
Our Production Fund is separate to our Operational Fund and I as CEO have to raise money for each project separately.
We are constantly growing and we are extremely successful as a theatre. However, no theatre complex in the world of our size can, or does exist without subsidy, either from the state, corporates or individuals.
It is extremely difficult in these times to find a sizeable annual grant from any individual or business and this brings me to our carefully-considered drive to ensure our sustainability.
The Baxter has always been the people’s theatre and so, I am going to appeal to the people.
I am going to ask 30 000 theatre lovers, to “Buy the Baxter a cup of coffee every month.” In other words, I am going to ask our friends to contribute R30 per month to the Baxter Theatre.
The reasons I am writing to you personally, is to ask you kindly to consider:
Contributing R30 a month to the Baxter Theatre, or R360 per year.
Helping me to reach 30 000 contributors by sharing this letter with friends and family and to champion this on behalf of The Baxter.
Should you wish to make a more substantial donation, we are able to provide you with a section 18A tax certificate. In this instance, please email me.
We need to accumulate the 30 000 donors over the next year. This would amount to approximately R10 800 000 per year and below is how the money will be allocated.
I do not see our theatre operating functionally until early 2021. We have to raise R5 000 000 to get through this year. The Baxter’s very existence depends on this amount.
Going forward the allocation would be as follows:
R 6 800 0000 - To become self-sustainable and not lean so heavily on the university in order to ensure the future of our theatre. This is an urgent priority.
R 4 000 000 – To be invested into our Permanent Endowment Fund, to generate interest on that fund.
We would provide full transparency to all of you, our contributors.
My deepest wish is that as a Baxter friend, you will assist me in growing the number of our contributors.
Should you decide to sign up for the “cup of coffee,” please let me know when you have done so by email.
If you have any further ideas or concerns, or would like to commit to finding a few more contributors for us, again please email me.
Many thanks for taking the time to read this email. I hope that you and your families remain safe over this difficult time.
We are delighted to share some thoughts from our celebrity coffee angels. (click image below to watch the video)