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‘$20 for ’20’ campaign supports historic Menomonie theater

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 5:02 PM CDT
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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -Vacant seats and empty stages have become the reality for many theaters and music venues.

The Mabel Tainter Theater in Menomonie, rich in history and known for its hand-crafted architecture, is no exception.

“Ninety-percent of independent venues are looking at potentially closing this year and we cannot, we will not and we must not let that happen to our Mabel Tainter,” says board of directors president Andrew Mercil.

He says safety is their priority.

“That meant canceling everything including our regular show seasons as well as a lot of the weddings and special events, [they] have been postponed because of the pandemic.”

A significant hit to the theater’s bottom line.

Ticket sales account for a third of their annual revenue, that’s gone too.

Even without events taking place it costs $900 a day to keep the theater operational Mercil says.

The Victorian landmark built in 1889, is asking for a little help from the community to keep open its 261-seat theater.

They launched a new campaign asking for twenty dollar donations throughout 2020.

Mabel’s director of operations Lucas Chase says no donation is too small.

“Our ‘Give $20 in ’20’ campaign will go to supplement the ticket revenue that’s not coming in at this moment. If we’re able to bring in 2,020 donors giving $20 that would be $40,400 [that] would just go an extremely long way,” Chase says.

Since the campaign launched on September 1 they’ve raised more than $10,000.

Theater tours are still offered each Friday and Saturday as well as a few hybrid virtual and in-person performances.

“The Mabel Tainter has been the cornerstone of our community and the artistic talents of the Chippewa valley for 130 years, so we’ve got this magnificent structure and we’re working really really hard to make sure it’s going to be here for the next 130 years,” Mercil says.

The two hope to have performances back under the lights by the first week of May.

To donate the Mabel Tainter Center for the Arts click here.

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