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WVPT paying off debt of $300K

Summer shows on hold while COVID continues in area

 West Virginia Public Theatre — with a debt of about $300,000 — underwent a bankruptcy scare in 2016. But a shift in management has brought that number down to less than $60,000.

Jerry McGonigle, artistic director of WVPT, said the nonprofit expects to have that paid off by the end of this year.

“We’re pretty excited that we’ve made it this far,” McGonigle said.

While carrying all of the “little skeletons” of debt, as McGonigle called it, when planning shows for each season organizers had to look at it from the perspective of “quality over quantity.”

Director of operations Charlotte Haas said it has been a great challenge paying off the debt while still paying the bills, but they have been able to juggle both.

McGonigle said he is looking forward to the future of the theater.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest just in the perception of the businesspeople in the community,” he said.

The public theater’s board had to rebuild a lot of relationships and grow back trust with different organizations and businesses in the community, and it has been a positive experience as well as a learning process, McGonigle said.

When taking over the theater and all that entailed, McGonigle he stuck to several core values:

  • Entertain and inspire audiences with quality, professional theater.
  • Employ honorable and responsible business practices with   community partners.
  • Educate the youth of the state and region to the wonders of the theater.
  • Enhance the economic and cultural environment of the region.

In regard to upcoming shows amidst COVID-19, WVPT made a post on its website to announce the suspension of its planned summer performances of I Do! I Do! and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

“Our community means the world to us, and we will do all we can to keep our artists and patrons safe,” the post reads.

Haas said WVPT has become an important part of her life, as has sharing that with the community.

“Having a professional theater company in the area is really important … [not only to the community] but WVU,” Haas said. “Theater tells stories we need to hear. … The arts are important, but theater is often the poor child of the arts.”

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