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Thursday, July 24, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 74.0° F  Mostly Cloudy


Arts Beat: Mercury Players Theatre hit by setbacks

Balke: 'We never really had a deep-pocketed donor pool.'
Balke: 'We never really had a deep-pocketed donor pool.'
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Mercury Players Theatre is the latest arts group to suffer recession setbacks. The company has canceled its annual Blitz Smackdown, scheduled for June 10 and 11. Tax records show that gifts, grants and contributions are down by half, and that other income is down by 44%.

Mercury has had three board meetings in three weeks, and will produce two shows during the 2011-12 season instead of four. The troupe has no debt.

"We've lost all of our grant writers," explains Mercury president Bonnie Balke. "We never really had a deep-pocketed donor pool. We don't have a membership that supports us financially. Our shows in the past two seasons have not done as well as we had hoped, whether for artistic or economic reasons, it's hard to say."

A recent fundraiser starring Saturday Night Live alum Nora Dunn was well-attended, Balke says. Mercury is also in talks with other groups to see if they'd like to use its MercLab rehearsal and performance space at 930 N. Fair Oaks Ave. The troupe's primary venue will remain the Bartell Community Theatre.

Since the recession began, many local arts groups have suffered periodic financial difficulties. Mercury is taking swift action. "Every Mercury board member has been charged with developing and presenting fundraising ideas for our next board meeting in June," says Balke.

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