When a series of problems arise, it’s rarely cataclysmic unless these event happen on top of each other or all at the same time and all dramatically impact the budget for your 10th season in business. That’s what happened to C-R Productions, a 501 (c)(3), at the Cohoes Music Hall. Jim Charles and Tony Rivera (C-R) found themselves in a budget shortfall of $75,000.00 as their 10th season was about to start.
That’s big bucks and Guys and Dolls was already in rehearsal. So what happened? Although I can’t say I know all the details, I do know Jim told the sold-out audience last night that several things happened: from low sales for the final show of Season 9, lower than normal subscribers for Season 10 and the decision from two of their $10,000.00 sponsors to reduce their sponsorship by 90% (opted to spread their funding for the arts to a more groups and organizations), and finally a slow response to the Annual Appeal - coming in quick succession, all contributed to this financial burden.
Now if you aren’t all that familiar with live, professional theater it may come as a surprise to learn that the actors, dancers, set designers, stage crew and musicians are all paid a wage. Many are members of Actors’ Equity, many come from afar to audition for the roles and those lucky enough to land a part in a show also have to be housed (and fed).
As a sometimes volunteer in the CMH office, I’ve also seen the other expenses most of us wouldn’t think of as part of the incredible productions on the stage at the Music Hall. How about paper products for the bathrooms, cleaning, the copier and copy paper for each production, and a myriad of other things. Luckily for Jim and Tony there’s a wonderful group of volunteers who come together to help with many of these things but there are all kinds of expenses to keep a theater going
From day one when Jim and Tony made the Cohoes Music Hall their home, community outreach has been their mission. From C-R Kids, the resident youth acting company offering a total theater experience; to the Creative Youth Alliance, cultivating artistic growth in young people in the community; C-R Center Stars, a unique program with the Center for Disability Services, enriching the lives of people with disabilities through the performing arts; to C-R Generations, another unique outreach to children, older adults and people with disabilities utilizing the arts. Although I love and support all these programs, I have to say that the one that lifts my spirits most and proves all things are possible, it’s C-R Center Stars.
So when Jim and Tony needed help, it’s not surprising that they did what they do best: they reached out for the community. Many have stepped forward, including the children, the alumni from C-R Kids, parents and families, the regional community, those from afar, from performers, directors and the arts community as a whole.
Their deadline to raise the $75,000.00 looms on August 15th but the good news is that they are over $59,000.00 as of this afternoon. And if you think the summer has been hard for Jim and Tony, it’s also been one of the most joy. They became Dads in May as they adopted beautiful little Maya, now four months old.
Can we keep the music at the Cohoes Music Hall? I think so. The shows that bring so much pleasure to thousands of people must go on. And so must the programs that spread a love of the arts and live, musical theater to children of all ages.
Just a note: as you know, I do not advocate for donations for any organization or group I write about and in full transparency I will tell you that Jim Charles is my husband’s cousin. That said, donate if you choose, or just send a word or two of support.