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A reason for theatre group to celebrate

Everyone that has made a seemingly endless string of monthly mortgage payments looks forward to the time when the last payment is made. Traditionally many people would have a “mortgage burning” party to celebrate the noteworthy accomplishment.

That is exactly what the Elmira Theatre Company (ETC) did last weekend.

After its annual awards banquet everyone headed outside for the big celebration of the evening.

“The Elmira Theatre Company is now debt-free, with the mortgage loans paid in full,” said Chris Grose, the organization’s promotions chair. “It was a very exciting moment and it feels really good to be in a place where we can just focus on doing what we do well and maintaining it.”

It only took six years for the theatre company to pay off its debt of $169,400. Over those years the company raised funds from holding productions, which amounted to $51,700 towards the mortgage, and fundraising donations to the tune of $40,100. Along with grants of just over $20,000 and proceeds from regular bingo games held in Kitchener, the organization reached its total.

Iris Miltenburg, ETC’s vice-president of productions, throws a copy of the theatre company’s mortgage into the fire as the theatre company celebrated the paying off all of its loans at the annual award banquet held on June 30.

“The biggest fundraiser for us has been bingo. For the last three years we have had volunteers run that for us. Those bingo games raised a big chunk of the money we needed, raising more than $56,000,” said Grose.

The company plans to continue holding the bingo nights for a short while and it will be up to the executive committee to decide whether or not to continue with the fundraiser.

As part of the overall plan to pay off the mortgage the theatre increased their productions from three shows to four over the season.

“We did that to generate more income and to help pay off the loans that we had,” said Grose, adding the company is thinking of returning to three productions a year now that the mortgage has erased.

Before the financial papers were burned, members of the organization where treated to 10-minute readings of the 2012-13 season productions at the banquet.

“It was a great evening filled with wonderful reflection on the past season and an introduction to the new season. The directors put together some actors to act out some scenes from each play and that gave all of us an idea of what to expect over the next year. The readings went over really well with everyone in attendance.”

The four shows in the 2012-2013 playbills are Harvest written by Ken Cameron and directed by Gord Davis, Nunsense written by Dan Goggin, directed by Joe Brenner, Shorthanded written and directed by Michael Grant and The Murder Room written by Jack Sharkey, directed by Michelle Kreitzer.

As part of the award banquet three awards were handed out with Sandy Weiler being the recipient of the ECTie award, Allison Bird Brenner receiving the life time achievement award and Sherry Heine was the recipient of the Betty Klinck Memorial Newcomer Award.

The ETC also announced the beginning of regular script reading cafes to be held in the community as they kick off the new season. The idea came for the readings when Grose heard about a company in Kitchener that holds script reading as a fundraiser and thought the idea would work well in Elmira.

The first script reading will take place July 9 at 7 p.m. at Robin’s Nest Coffeehouse with a reading of Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite. All members of the community are welcome to come and join in with the reading or sit back and enjoy as the entire script will be read.

Every other month members of the company will be reading the scripts that may or may not be considered for future productions.

“Not all the scripts we will read will be turned into one of our plays and this is a great way for the community to come and hear something different and participate if they want. It will be a lot of fun to take this out to the community, plus it lets people know that there is a theatre here in town and helps to spread the word out about us.”

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