Hindi Greenberg: It’s important to join or renew your Center for the Arts membership | TheUnion.com

Hindi Greenberg: It’s important to join or renew your Center for the Arts membership

Hindi Greenberg

People ask me why I put so much volunteer time and effort into The Center for the Arts. My answer is fairly simple — it’s a great organization that brings an incredible amount of fabulous arts and entertainment to our small community and which gives me, personally, a lot of joy.

And now that The Center is undergoing an expensive and expansive renovation, it will be able to attract even more exciting talent and present that talent with even better sound, seating comfort and logistics (and nine women’s bathroom stalls — hooray!). I am excited for the new Center to open; it’s currently scheduled for an early December debut, rather than the early fall date that was originally projected because rain delayed the pouring of cement and other construction for several months, plus several unexpected issues were discovered that needed repair.

The problem is that so many people say, “I’ll wait until The Center opens to renew my membership — after all, they aren’t putting on many concerts now, so I’m not getting any benefit from my membership.” But that’s not the right answer!

Center membership is down by 60% and, without people joining or renewing their memberships now, it’s possible The Center will have a difficult time operating until the December opening. I hear people say, “But I donated to the new construction,” without realizing that the construction budget is separate from the day-to-day cost of operations for The Center.

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What people may not know is that The Center’s operating costs while out of the main building are at a level not much lower than before the renovations began because payments for mortgage, salaries, insurance, workers’ comp, phones, electricity and interim office rental continue, even while there are few shows with little ticket income. Although The Center had put aside a large sum to use for operating expenses and has reduced employees from 22 to 8 and cut expenses and programming (which, when done at the “On the Go” venues often lose money) as much as possible, the four-month delay in renovations caused by the rainy winter has almost exhausted that large sum. Plus, The Center hasn’t cut any of their youth programs and has, in fact, expanded summer camps and the Free Family Fun Days because the staff feels that youth programming is so important.

When The Center was fully booking performances last year, tickets paid for 70% of operating costs, with memberships and donations covering the other 30%. While The Center’s building remains closed, those percentages have more than reversed themselves, with memberships needing to cover 80% of operating expenses.

Once The Center does open, there is a full calendar of exciting events already booked, which will generate increased ticket sales (and the staff is working diligently to book great acts for 2020 because booking is often done more than six months before a show date). But because memberships are what pay for most of the current expenses, The Center needs the community to step up and join or renew their memberships now to help cover the monthly expenses until the December opening date.

In fact, the May membership drive has been extended until June 14, so you can still have the opportunity to renew or join and be entered to win a drawing for four World Fest tickets and a Best of WorldFest pass.

And you will also have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve helped keep open the doors at The Center for the Arts until the renovated building is unveiled, in its exciting new incarnation, in December.

Hindi Greenberg, who lives in Nevada City, is regular contributor to The Union’s Prospector entertainment guide and volunteer for The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley.

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