EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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July 23, 2013

City mulls cut to hall fees

Group says it can't afford $5,500 cost


Helmers said the troupe is also looking for police officers and firefighters who might be willing to volunteer their time to work a detail without pay.

“The mayor and chief made specific offers to help that we will pursue,” Helmers said yesterday.

In response to the matter, councilors have expressed frustration that recent efforts to make the City Hall auditorium easier and less expensive for local schools and private theatrical groups have been ineffective.

“This is lesson that all these fees and regulations are making it so that nobody can rent the auditorium because we have made it unaffordable,” Councilor William Ryan said at the council’s July 9 meeting.

Helmers said the theater company also has about $2,400 in operating costs related to its next production.

“We only generate revenue when we perform, which happens three or four times per year,” he said. “Consequently, the proceeds from each show need to cover the cost of that show, pay our rent and expenses until the next show, and allow us to pre-pay the royalties for the next show. Because ‘Lend Me a Tenor’ takes place in early October, we need to raise enough operating capital to keep the lights on until we generate revenue from our December show.”

The troupe projects $6,000 in ticket sales and another $1,200 in advertisement and sponsorship revenue for its October show, leaving a gap of about $6,200 based on the city’s $5,500 estimate for renting the auditorium, Helmers said.

The theater company, which formed in 2007 and has performed at various Haverhill churches and at the high school, needs the City Hall auditorium because the churches it has used don’t have stages that are large enough to accommodate the October production and the high school is unavailable at that time. The set for “Lend Me A Tenor” consists of two adjoining hotel rooms with multiple doors that actors and actresses are constantly using, Helmers said.

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