MOVP wants new members, bigger audiences

Members of the Mid-Ohio Valley Players say the organization is having financial problems but say rumors about it shutting down as a result are untrue.

Kevin Paskawych, who serves on the organization’s board of directors, confirmed that though the organization has been going through difficult times, there are no plans to close.

Paskawych said the Players have had a resurgence in new members and plan to attempt to revitalize its shows to suit a younger audience while strengthening its ties to the community.

“Our upcoming season will be the biggest season we’ve had in 15 to 20 years,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of exciting plays that we think will reinvigorate the theater.”

Paskawych cited the changing demographics in Marietta, which include a growing proportion of young people in the area that demands more adaptation from the organization.

“Because we have been producing shows that the audience does not want to see, we’re now trying to grow as a group,” he said. “We’re trying to open up, get new members and get audiences back in.”

Board of Directors President J.R. Wells said the theater is hurting like many businesses are, and that the company is working to adjust its budget so it can continue to move forward.

“The thing everyone has to know is we are a community theater, so we are completely voluntary,” he said. “All the money that goes in is to maintain the theater, not to pay salaries.”

Wells said funding for the theater comes from a variety of sources, including grants like those the company receives from Artsbridge and state funding for artistic programs, ticket sales, direct donations and business sponsors that help pay for publicity.

“I apply for everything I can possibly find, we run 50/50 donations, anything we can, even setting out food during shows that we only ask donations for,” Wells said. “Unfortunately our long-time audience has started to pass away, and when your old crowd is decreasing, you have to get young people in.”

Paskawych said a full lineup of shows is planned for the 2014-2015 season, including Night of the Living Dead, Les Miserables, The Odd Couple and Steel Magnolias, among other well-known performances that the company hopes will boost numbers.

The MOVP Jr. Players and MOVP Youth Theatre for children will also continue on with a regular lineup of shows.

“We are trying to grow and expand, and we’re trying to evolve,” Paskawych said. “These shows are very well known and we hope will be of more interest to younger people and will encourage them to get involved.”

Wells and Paskawych both said there has been a slight increase in community participation, and Wells said the company is asking for more community support, which can come from a variety of channels.

“We need volunteers to help work inside, from cleaning to organizing props and costumes, and people can also audition to be a part of shows, or if people wish to donate they can do that directly through our website,” Wells said. “Or, just being a member of our audience helps too.”

Wells confirmed that the majority of a nonprofit theater like Mid-Ohio Valley Players’ funds come from ticket sales, with prices set at some of the lowest in the area, and that putting on a performance is a major expense for the theater.

The royalties required to put on a play are at least $3,500, with costumes running anywhere from $500 to $2,000, music and scripts at about $1,000, and another subset of costs coming from set construction and printing, Wells said, though the cost varies widely depending on the ability to reuse materials and the popularity of a show.

Paskawych also said that though the 100-year-old building has been paid off, much of the current ticket sales have to go back into its maintenance, as things like a current roof leakage, though minor, take an extra toll on the annual budget.

“Right now it is in the process of being fixed. It is just an extra issue that we have to budget for,” Paskawych said.

Wells confirmed that there are already plans in the works for a 100-year anniversary celebration in March 2015.

“In the world of theater, it has been a tough time for everyone, but we’re moving on, and we’re getting our bills paid,” he said.