2018 Reflections from The Butte

Here we are, at the end of another year. And what a year it’s been! I’ve finished my first full year working full time as Executive Director of The Butte Theater Foundation. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting so many of you in our theater community, and am excited to meet the rest. If we haven’t had a chance to meet, I’m often lurking around the lobby before and after shows, or holed up in my office next door in The Star. This year at The Butte, we’ve had a year of learning and one of growth. It has sometimes been crazy, sometimes confusing, and most often thrilling and exciting as we embark on a new chapter. We know it hasn’t always been easy, and The Foundation and myself wanted to take the time to touch base with you all and communicate our sincerest gratitude for an amazing year.

My, have we grown this year! We have been working on building up our Community and Education programs. Our Community Season now boasts free movie nights, a pretty stellar Cripple Creek talent show, a growing community theatre program, and we are excited to be adding stand-up comedy and magic shows to our lineup of professional touring acts in 2019. Our Education program brought in more than 400 area students through our Tickets for Kids program to enjoy our professional and historical melodrama for free! And we began a Jr Player volunteer program of students who can learn and engage in the backstage elements of the theater. We have begun a series of really amazing business relationships, both locally and ‘down the mountain.’

We’ve begun to diversify our funding. We continue to see an uptick in donations (whoohoo)! Donations are not only financially supportive, but they also let us know that we are impacting our patrons in a way that makes them want to give back to The Butte. It makes us feel all fuzzy inside when patrons believe in our work here, and we thank you all so sincerely! In 2018, we were awarded at total of $22,500 in grant funding and have currently been awarded $65,000 for 2019. Grant funding goes towards our community and educational programming, and capital projects (our new lighting system and our expansion project into The Star building). And that’s not even to mention the amazing and continued support by The City of Cripple Creek, who remains our partner in this venture. Their subsidy is helping us grow our Professional Regional Theater to be a showpiece of arts and culture in the area.

The Butte Theater Foundation is finishing up Year 3 of a 5 Year Plan to reach Financial Sustainability. When we are financially sustainable, we’ll no longer be dependent on city subsidies to help us operate the theater. We are thrilled to announce that we are not only on track but a little ahead of schedule to reach this goal by the end of 2020!

We announced our expansion plan and Capital Fundraising Campaign to purchase The Star and Horseshoe Buildings. Not only is this expansion necessary, as we are at risk of losing The Star building as our workshop and build space (of which without NO shows would be happening, or at least not at the quality we are all used to). But we also see a LOT of potential in the ability to turn the space into an expanded lobby and bar area which will greatly heighten our customer experience. Since our launch of the campaign in August, we have raised $215,000 and are working on completing Phase One of the project. More updates on this soon!

And, of course, OF COURSE, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention our amazing new resident professional theater company, Mountain Repertory Theatre. We know this transition caused a lot of trepidation for some, as the talented TATC had been with us for so long. Mountain Rep brought in new ideas, new skill sets and some bright new vision for the future of The Butte. It’s different, we know! But one of the main selling points of MRT was the fresh vision and phenomenal energy they have while maintaining dedication to the core principles of our theater.

This year the Foundation has been working with MRT to define those core principles and our identity here at The Butte. Because we’ve come up to this question time and time again: How do we grow our theater and yet maintain our identity? How do we reach new audiences and position ourselves as a major tourist attraction for the region, but still take care of our history and our community? It is quite the question, my friends. And one, I’m sure you’ll understand, that is not easy to answer. This is a question that we will constantly need to wrestle as we look to the future. What is our identity? What do people love about our shows here at The Butte? What sets us apart from other live performance experiences, and what keeps our audience coming back? And we settled on these core principles.

The Butte Theater is:

Inclusive: It ain’t Shakespeare. We do theater for everyman! It is high quality and professional, but you don’t have to dress up, you can enjoy a beer and boo the bad guys. And we try and offer stories that will connect to folks from all walks of life.

Interactive: Boo! Hiss! Yes, this is core to The Butte. We are an interactive space. The audience is a huge part of the shows that we create! We want to invite you to sing along, get on stage and dance (when appropriate), and celebrate art, theater and community with us!

Fun: Our shows are fun. Other theaters do think pieces, or political pieces, or heart wrenching dramas. That’s great for them. But The Butte is where you go when you just want to have some FUN. Don’t get us wrong, we believe that fun, comedic theater can connect on deep emotional levels. But we want you to leave our theater with a smile on your face and a song in your heart!

THIS is who we are! Inclusive, Interactive and Fun. As we grow our professional season, we’re looking to add variety, to reach new audiences, and to be put on the map competitively as a professional regional theater. But we will stick to these core values. Best of all, we believe these values hold true across many different kinds of shows with a wide variety of content!

These values were really born from our rich and cherished history of melodrama here at The Butte. Because what are melodramas if not inclusive, interactive and fun? And we’ll continue to rock those melodramas and olios in a way that we all love! But, we’re also looking for shows. We want to bring you more theater! We want to grow! And we want to share all that is amazing about The Butte with folks from all walks of life, from all over the country.

Our mission here at The Butte is to offer a varied professional season that provides “something for everyone.” Now, we aren’t foolish enough to think that every single patron will absolutely love all 7 shows every year (though some of you will, we see you). So our goal is to offer a variety. We can’t guarantee you’ll like ALL 7 shows, but we are willing to bet you’ll absolutely love 3 or 4 of them. Variety allows us to enhance our inclusive nature and continue looking for shows and stories that appeal to folks of all different ages, beliefs and backgrounds. Because everyone deserves to enjoy the Butte! So our season is going to try and offer something for everyone. AND, let’s be real, more patrons means more money! And more money means more theater that we can offer to you, our community.

Now, we can’t guarantee we’ll always make the right decisions. There will be growing pains, as we see ever evolving shifts in our relationships and our community, as we look to build our programs and expand our reach and services, and as we learn! But we CAN promise you that our commitment to this town, this theater and these shows is true. And we have been so incredibly humbled this year by you, our amazing patrons. We’re growing, and we’re changing, and we’re learning, and your unwavering support has been truly rewarding. Thank you, thank you, thank you to our longtime patrons and to our new friends. For coming out, buying tickets, speaking with us before and after shows, sharing your thoughts and concerns and opinions. It is your love and commitment to this theater that reminds us why we are here, and keeps us working.

The Butte Theater has seen an amazing year of accomplishments. And it’s all because of you. It’s your belief in us, as the Foundation, in this town, and in this theater that allowed us to jump into this new chapter. And from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.

Thank you.

Happiest Holidays to you and yours, and here’s to another amazing year at The Butte Theater.

With love and best wishes,

Emily

Who is The Butte Theater Foundation? Some of you may be asking. Let me give you a quick breakdown! The City of Cripple owns and operates the building we all fondly know as ‘The Butte Theater.’ They pay for the upkeep of the building and hire our good friend Mr. Mel Moser to act as Facility Manager. The City partners with us, The Butte Theater Foundation (BTF), to run programming at The Butte! We are a 501(c)3 non-profit run by a Board of Directors made up of community volunteers, all longtime Butte patrons and friends. The City of Cripple Creek fully fund the programming at The Butte. However, in 2016 at the City’s request, we began a 5 year Plan developed by our Board of Directors to reach financial sustainability This plan included growing our professional theater program, hiring a full-time Executive Director, and building up our other programs so we could increase our revenue draw and apply for grants! We are very thrilled to say that we are at the end of Year 3 of our plan and WELL ON TRACK to be financially sustainable by the end of 2020.

In addition to funding the operation of the building, The City of Cripple Creek helps subsidize our Professional Program. This subsidy will be spread in 2019 to helping purchase any needed theater equipment so we can continue to offer high quality shows in our Pro Season. While we are planning to wean off of this subsidy by the end of 2020, the partnership that has been developed between the City and the Foundation is growing and blooming! We are all so dedicated to continuing to bring tourists into our beautiful town and offering a valuable Cripple Creek arts and culture experience.

BTF has three main programs. Our Professional Program hires the amazingly talented Mountain Repertory Theatre to design and operate a full season of professional theater from May-December. We do 7 shows and 160+ performances a year. Our Community Initiative does community outreach focused on engaging folks in the arts. We offer a Community Season in the months of Jan-May, which boasts free film nights, booked touring acts for our locals to enjoy, a community theater program, and a Cripple Creek talent night and FUNraiser. Our Education program looks for innovative ways to build youth involvement in the theater. Our Tickets for Kids program provides free tickets to area students to attend our professional and historical melodrama, and our Jr Players program offers training and volunteer opportunities for youth in backstage and technical elements of the theater. Our education program looks for ways to partner with area school’s programming to help enhance the artistic and cultural experiences of our local youth.

The BTF hires one full-time employee, Emily Andrews, as the Executive Director. And that’s who we are and what we do! Questions? Thoughts? Ideas? Concerns? Let us know! Please reach out to Emily and share all that is in your heart. This is a growing and evolving operation, and we couldn’t do it without you. Let us know what you think!

Emily Andrews
Ph: 719-689-3742
Email: emilyandrews.butte@gmail.com