Lisa Condit spoke with Talk of the Commonwealth‘s Hank Stolz and The Hanover Theatre board member Dr. Ivan Green about how the theatre is faring in these difficult times and how the Worcester community can support the arts. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune into WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Hank: Lisa, where are we right now?
Lisa: Things change a lot in a week, right? All of the theatre, except for our small facilities team, is now working from our home offices and everything is being handled remotely. We’re taking it one day at a time, just like a lot of people are.
We are all looking forward to that time beyond. We’re sensitive to a lot of people who have been impacted by this. When are people are going to want to come together again? How can we stay connected? Because we want to stay connected, and people want to stay connected to us in the meantime.
Hank: And the theatre community is such a wonderful way to stay connected. So many performers stepping up and giving impromptu performances or unscheduled performances.
Lisa: At the end of the day, we all need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. We’re here with Dr. Ivan Green, one of our board members. He has been a subscriber from the beginning and is very humble in acknowledging that he and his wife have the ability to donate back to the theatre. But there are other ways that people can help. Just help each other and help ourselves heal faster.
Hank: Exactly right. This has to be so difficult right now, just in the Broadway series. Normally at this time, you’d be announcing it. There must be Broadway tours that are a little bit up in the air right now. They’re maybe not sure what they’re going to be doing.
Lisa: There are so many things that remain moving targets, as I’m sure you can imagine, in everybody’s business, but especially when it comes to tour dates. What’s more up in the air that people might not think about is the impact on having to take an extended leave off for a tour and for everybody who works on that tour. It’s hard for tours to come back together. However, next year is intact for what we can announce when. The other thing that hasn’t changed are the number of days and weeks on the calendar, and planning that next year and that next season.
There is such a feeling of, believe it or not, optimism at this point because we have such great supporters, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have needs. I think that one of the things that’s important is that everybody is suffering at this time, economically, and we know that not everybody is financially able to give to causes and the theatre, but we still know that the arts are important.
Dr. Green: Well, one of the things that I’ve found out over the years is that performing arts venues run on very thin margins. While many people feel that ticket prices go to the places where the events are held, they don’t. For the most part, just a small amount of the operating revenue comes from the tickets. Much comes from the donations. In this day and age particularly, with the pandemic around us and everybody shuttering in, events have been closed right, left and center for virtually everybody, which has meant a tremendous hit on the operating revenues of all of the cultural institutions, as well as educational institutions in our area and throughout the country. It’s very hard when you think of the vibrancy that these institutions, particularly The Hanover Theatre, have brought to Worcester over the last several years.
We want these institutions to be vibrant and healthy in six to eight months when everything starts to get hopefully back to normal.
I’m also very encouraged by the fact that the conservatory is doing classes online, too. It’s been exciting watching the conservatory grow.
Lisa: They’re so creative, and such a great community. And you know, with that growth, comes more responsibility for the organization. One thing that has come out of this is we have established the COVID-19 Resiliency Fund so that is a way if people want to, they can give to The Hanover Theatre.
Dr. Green: My wife and I were fortunate enough that we can make these donations. Not everybody can, but we did a couple of things. We support the theatre with the annual donations both to the Franklin Square Society, to the theatre itself, as well as Access to the Arts, which supports the efforts of the conservatory. When all of this started happening, and we were having to cancel shows, we made an additional donation to the Franklin Square, and for each of the various events that have been canceled, we made those purchased tickets into donations back to the theatre.
Lisa: That is so great, and it really is appreciated. We’re a non-profit organization. We would much rather have people reinvest in us with a credit for a future performance, and that is an option we’re giving people.