Socorro- London Frontier Theatre seeks community help in fight for its life...
London Frontier Theatre: At the edge
London Frontier Theatre Company turns to public for help with loan.
Magdalena – Donna Todd likes drama. The force behind London Frontier Theatre, Donna has written, directed and acted in the popular series “Lost Wife Creek” set in the ‘30s Depression era in New Mexico. But Donna prefers the drama stay on stage. Life sometimes imitates art, they say, and for Donna keeping the theatre alive is unfolding with a bit too much drama.
A recent story in the Socorro newspaper, El Defensor Chieftain, titled “The final Frontier?” headlined the hard-scrabble scene: The current tough times mean funding sources are drying up and London Frontier Theatre Company is scrambling to find a way to keep the doors open. The immediate need is for funds to help pay back a loan to the New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund used to purchase the theatre’s home, the historic WPA gym.
As with her Lost Wife Creek series, the company has managed to stave off the immediate crises, thanks to the generosity of some patrons and the willingness of the loan fund managers forego immediate payment. But more is need to ensure the company’s continued existence.
The theater has produced more than 45 original productions during its 13-season run. Todd said the London Frontier Theatre Company has lived up to its name by "exploring the frontiers of theatre production." It has also built a loyal audience and has maintained a sense of financial solvency thanks to contributions through the Friends of the Theatre program. LFTC’s next theatre production is set for early July. Meanwhile,… "We've come to a cliffhanger — the kind of drama that plays well on stage, but is dire in reality," Todd said in the article. "We're throwing ourselves — as performers do — upon the mercy of the public.”
As such, contributions of any amount are welcome; and as a non-profit group, donations are tax deductible. Donations can be made online at www.londonfrontiertheatre.com or mailed to London Frontier Theatre Company, P.O. Box 1126, Magdalena, NM 87825. All donations will receive receipts for tax purposes and a personal response.
By: Gerald Garner Jr. El Defensor Chieftain Editor
London Frontier Theatre Company turns to public for help with loan
Donna Todd knows drama.
Todd, the director of Magdalena's London Frontier Theatre Company, is scrambling to ensure that the theater's doors remain open as funding sources continue to dry up.
It may sound like introduction to the theater's next dramatic production — the quintessential tale of tough times on America's Western Frontier — but for Todd and the rest of the theater's crew, this is a real life drama — not a stage production.
Faced with an imminent deadline to satisfy a $68,000 loan, Todd is trying to drum up interest and funds to save the theater from bankruptcy and prolong its 13-year existence.
"We've come to a cliffhanger — the kind of drama that plays well on stage, but is dire in reality," Todd said. "We're throwing ourselves — as performers do — upon the mercy of the public.
"To quote a Tennessee Williams line, we 'have always relied upon the kindness of strangers' as well as the kindness of many individuals and businesses who've given wonderful support over the years," Todd added.
Now with signs of the recession moving from Wall Street to Magdalena's Main Street, Todd hopes the generosity continues.
The theater has until April 15 to pay an estimated $30,000 to its mortgage holder, the New Mexico Community Development Loan Fund.
According to Todd, arts programs throughout the Land of Enchantment have felt the financial pinch. Consequently, arts related grants are scarce and competition for them fierce.
"Very few grants are available in New Mexico, especially for the performing arts," Todd said. "We applied to a previous grantor who'd been generous, but hard times have hit both foundation investments and other non-profits, so we weren't among the lucky few the foundation could fund this year."
Faced with the prospect of losing its home, Todd has turned elsewhere to find funds.
"We're hoping that the community rallies," Todd said. "We're in desperate need of donors/patrons."
To that end, Todd said any combination of funds would be welcome.
"We can take 30 donors at $1,000 apiece, 300 at $100 or 3,000 at $10," she said. "It would be nice to get it all at once, but I'm sure the Loan Fund will work with us if we get them a good portion of the money."
The theater has produced more than 45 original productions during its 13-season run. Todd said the London Frontier Theatre Company has lived up to its name by "exploring the frontiers of theatre production." It has also built a loyal audience and has maintained a sense of financial solvency thanks to contributions through the Friends of the Theatre program.
Todd, however, isn't bitter about the current financial forecast. She realizes the Loan Fund needs to collect so it can continue its work.
"It's a fine non-profit organization that enables other non-profits and small businesses to go forward," she said. "But they need their money to continue their work, just as we need a stage to continue ours."
Todd describes the Magdalena outfit as "organic theatre."
"It's grown from our own soil with dedication — not large or always perfectly shaped — but with a flavor and substance found nowhere else," she said.
In closing, Todd recalled an exchange from an episode of the company's Lost Wife Creek series that she said best sums up the current situation:
"It's a New Deal program — our country's history, music, art, the lives of Americans, their experiences and memories. If we don't support the people who record the past and the present and interpret them in books, plays or music, we'll have no history, no vision of our future — no connection to each other; we've lost America."
Arkansas homesteader Gardy Trotter responds, "Yeah, so there'll be something left that says we lived and mattered — maybe not what people call important but mattered to us and a few others, and for a time, we growed stuff and tended to things and felt like some spot on this earth was ours."
Todd said donations (in any amount) will be gratefully received and those donating will join the "Friend of the Theatre" rolls.
Donations can be made online at www.londonfrontiertheatre.com or mailed to London Frontier Theatre Company, P.O. Box 1126, Magdalena, NM 87825. All donations will receive receipts for tax purposes and a personal response.
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