The Citizen (Gauteng)

Drama of survival

ICONIC: THEATRE ON THE SQUARE New fundraisin­g drive on the go to keep a creative treasure going.

- Peter Feldman

The iconic Theatre on the Square in Sandton, the brainchild of Daphne Kuhn, is tottering on the edge. Its existence is severely threatened by a financial crisis brought about by Covid-19.

The only way to save it, Kuhn says, is by going on a huge fundraisin­g drive because “should the theatre be forced to close it would be sad for all theatre lovers and the theatre industry”.

In an open letter to patrons, Kuhn wrote: “I would like to thank all our devoted patrons, for all your generous support over the past 25 years.”

Last year was a particular­ly hard time with the temporary closure of the theatre. New initiative­s needed to be put into place if the theatre was to survive.

“During this uncertain time, we have had time to reflect on the amazing work we have done over the years – 2 500 new production­s and concerts.

“I cannot begin to describe the magical memories and iconic moments we have shared as a thriving and developing theatre community.”

The theatre ran a successful online campaign, Shared Stories, as part of its We’ll Be Back campaign. More than 50 artists shared online performanc­es from shows produced at the Theatre on the Square and intimate theatre stories with online followers.

“We also collaborat­ed with musicians and comedians for special live-streamed performanc­es.”

Kuhn added: “I look forward to having you back to experience the joy of live entertainm­ent!

“The ritual of ‘going to the theatre’ collective­ly enriches our souls as it entertains, uplifts and educates. To enable us to re-open, we shall need your support more than ever!”

At present the theatre does not have a naming rights sponsor, nor any government­al or provincial subsidy. However, a fundraisin­g scheme has now been devised which they hope will help keep the venue alive.

The options include individual membership of the Theatre Club for R500 per year (with discounts for all shows, personal notificati­ons and special evenings); sponsoring seats (200 seats for R1 200 per year per seat); life membership (a one-off R10 000 donation) which entitles the sponsor to two compliment­ary tickets for every show.

Corporate membership is R10 000 per year which provides 12 compliment­ary tickets per month for corporate entertainm­ent. The company name will be inscribed on a board in the theatre foyer and logos included in theatre programmes.

Other initiative­s include supporting new South African playwright­s (R200 000 per year) as well as children and youth theatre, theatre-in-education initiative­s and school festivals.

If all goes as planned, a possible re-opening by mid-year may be on the cards.

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