The staff at Centerstage Theatre is so grateful for the support we have received from the community in Federal Way. From calls and emails to visits and donations for our auction and fundraiser, our patrons have gone above and beyond to show their love for this theater.
We want to let the people of Federal Way know that it is our greatest desire to remain here in the city and to continue to serve through the community and school programs we have developed and launched this year. While we are pleased to be in negotiation talks with the city, we have gotten a lot of questions about whether that means good things or bad for the future of Centerstage. The short answer is: We don’t know.
For most of the previous decade, Centerstage has been paid a management fee to care for the Knutzen Family Theatre and the contingent spaces. That means we covered the scheduling and customer care for theatrical/performance events, staffed them with experienced technicians, covered the janitorial services for the space and paid a large portion of the utilities at Dumas Bay Centre. The management contract netted Centerstage $70,000 annually ($100,000 paid to us, with $30,000 going back into Dumas Bay Centre in utilities, janitorial and minor maintenance). Obviously, this is a substantial amount to make up in such a short time; the contract is up June 30. Centerstage has made significant financial strides in the past season under new leadership, but this $70,000 is equivalent to the salaries of all four of our staff members combined.
Strengthened partnerships and sponsorships with local businesses would normally be a logical step in such a situation, however, our hands are tied by two major obstacles: a severe lack of time and the fact that remaining in Federal Way is not a guarantee. It is very difficult to move through the process of procuring new sponsors when you have two months to a move-out date. It is even more difficult to ask the remarkable business community here in Federal Way to support their local nonprofit semi-professional theater when we cannot even guarantee that we will be able to stay in the city. What a horrible spot to be in! We desperately need the support of Federal Way’s businesses and citizens in order to keep our doors open, but we cannot even promise you that on July 1 we won’t be forced to look for a home somewhere else. In our journey to reach financial stability, it seems we are in quite the catch-22.
While we remain hopeful that we can come to an agreement with the city that allows us to remain in the Knutzen Family Theatre and to serve Federal Way, at this time there have been no proposals from the city that are financially tenable for Centerstage. Where things stand right now, our future is very much up in the air, and we need to continue to garner support from those who want to see our work in the city carry on.
We hope we have better news in the weeks to come, and we hope to continue to call Federal Way our home.
Trista Duval, Centerstage artistic director
Angela Bayler, Centerstage managing director