COEUR d'ALENE - The fate of Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre rests in the performing arts organization's ability to raise $150,000.
And it has to be done quickly.
"We need support now," said actress Ellen Travolta, of Coeur d'Alene. Travolta's acting resume includes roles on several hit television sitcoms. She has been a staple on the Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre stage since 1990, and formerly served on the nonprofit's board.
Earlier this week, season ticket subscribers and the public learned that financial woes may force the cancellation of the 46-year-old theater group's 2014 season. The situation is more dire and urgent than many people realize, Travolta told The Press on Friday.
Lackluster ticket sales, in recent years and during this summer's four shows, leave the organization in need of $150,000 to break even.
The amount sounds "daunting," Travolta said, but it can be raised quickly, if each of CST's 3,000 season ticket holders pitches in.
"If each of those subscribers would give $50, they would have enough to finish out the year," Travolta said.
The decline of ticket sales isn't exclusive to CST, Travolta said.
"The trend is all over in theater, opera, ballet, the symphonies," she said. "They're all hurting, and it's all across the country."
Michelle Mendez, CST's executive director, said most people don't realize that the theater is a 501c3 nonprofit, relying almost entirely on ticket sales. They also receive grants and donations.
CST receives no government funding and is not associated in any way with the city of Coeur d'Alene.
"I also want people to know that we are not a part of North Idaho College," Mendez told The Press. "We rent the facility and employ many of their staff."
CST produces its summer shows in the college's Schuler Performing Arts Center.
The $70,000 cost of the theater rental each summer is one of the group's major expenses.
The rental fee alone is $18,570. In addition, there is a community use fee of 50 cents per seat filled during the season. The community use fee averages $12,000 each year. Technical staff costs $23,000 and ushers cost $16,000.
Donations can be made on CST's website, www.cdasummertheatre.com; by phone, 769-7780; or mail a check payable to Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre to P.O. Box 1119, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83816.