Marco Players set to close with Covid fund leak

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Marco players, the second oldest operating theater in Collier County, could be the first artistic death from the coronavirus pandemic.

Artistic Director and President Beverly Dahlstrom has announced that without a major infusion of funds, the theater will close on November 30. Reeling from the cancellation of his last two plays from last season, a nervous audience this season, and the distancing company’s revenue demands, Marco Players lost $ 75,000 in revenue.

Dahlstrom says players have tapped into every source they can. She received interim funding from two Small Business Association programs: Paycheque Protection Program funds for its four contract employees and an economic disaster loan.

He received a grant from the Community Foundation. And her ongoing “Staying Alive” campaign brought in $ 25,000 of the $ 50,000 she was looking for.

But when only 11 people are sitting in the seats in your first game of the season, things are grim, she admitted. Attendance at “Born Yesterday”, which runs until Sunday, November 8, has dropped to 20 this week in a house that will accommodate 42 when its headquarters are socially remote. (At full capacity, the house holds 83.)

"Born yesterday" opens the season at The Marco Players.

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Some of those ticket holders, however, are people using credits for their seats from productions that were canceled last season.

“Some people don’t come because they are afraid,” she said. “So we are trying to recover from COVID, we are trying to recover from last season and we don’t know what winter is going to bring to a lot of people up north that I have spoken to.

“Some are coming back. Others are not. Some can’t come back now if they want to go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas.”

States like New York, she explained, require people from states with high coronavirus rates to self-quarantine if they return. So many people have simply chosen to wait until January. This would impact the market for “The Farce Day of Christmas”, his holiday game.

For a theater that grossed between $ 20,000 and $ 32,000 per show, plus $ 1,500 to $ 2,000 per show for six Lunchbox Series monologues, it was a disaster.

“If you look at the total cost of running this theater on a monthly basis, you have to admit it won’t work,” Dahlstrom said. So two weeks ago, the theater put in place a plan to vacate the building it rents in the Marco Town Center shopping mall and liquidate its equipment and sets after November 30.

It would be the first known closure due to the pandemic. The Naples-based Stay in May festival was disbanded, but that decision was made for other reasons and was official before the pandemic. Classical chamber concerts, who has no space and needs little equipment, has chosen to sit down this season due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.

Marco Players is used to bringing in local playwrights, such as Carole Fenstermacher, who has previewed or performed here. Nationally, Joe Simonelli, who recently moved to southwest Florida, not only stars in the current “Born Yesterday”, but a world premiere of his “The Spirit of Bay Manor” was slated for January.

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Moving to other neighborhoods would not solve the problem.

“I still have insurance. I still have rent. I still have utilities. I have five offsite lockers. I still have the same bills,” she said. “Quick Books, Constant Contact – they’re coming like there’s no tomorrow.”

He hasn’t totally given up hope. Its “Staying Alive” campaign is still active. (See the information box with this story.)

“During the summer our clients were so amazing. They were so generous. They helped us through the summer,” she said. Still, the costs haven’t stopped and the tourist season could come without tourists.

“We see ourselves as a working theater,” Dahlstrom. “We give people the opportunity to put on a new production or a new play. It’s a theater where people can come and create.”

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers the arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News / naplesnews.com. Contact her at 239-213-6091.

“Stay alive” with Marco

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