Save Our Community Theater!
Up until that time, the community had not been exposed to, "Broadway Style," adult, musical theatre. The show was exhuberently received and all involved were enthusiastic about continuing on with more musicals and plays, so, "NPTG," was quickly incorporated.
Shortly after incorporation, NPTG was offered an abandoned city building, which became it's home for costumes and rehearsals for the next two decades, while holding performaces at a city middle school.
By the early 1990's it was becoming clear that using city schools for performances was no longer economically feasable, due to rising rental, janitorial and security costs.
At about that time a small group of members proposed building a small, "black-box" theater on it's own property and several shows were actually produced there to great financial sucess, but the run was short-lived. It was soon pointed out that the propery could not be updated to a point that would allow the proper permits for theatrical assembly.
Due to the declining condition of the rambling building, NPTG accepted a cash offer for the building in 1998 and our search for a new "home" began.
NPTG kept it's name alive in the intervening years with "Showstoppers", a twelve member group which performed traveling musical reviews and shows at various venues throughout Massachusetts, and in New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Yet we have always identified ourselves as a "Fitchburg," organization.
Fitchburg was once a city of many theaters, but sadly, few remain.
In 2007, we were invited to view what was originally the Swedish Congregational Church in Fitchburg, which was ideally situated near the common and boasted a sanctuary that was an obvious choice for a theatre. The building is also on the list of, "historic spaces," and was designed by the famous local architech H.M. Francis.
An offer was made, which was rejected, and the building laid dormant for the next year.
The following summer the owners returned to us, offering the building at less than our original offer for the building, given it's recent neglect.
During the next 4 years we were able to procure a small equity mortgage for repairs we could not perform on our own, and many of our members and friends dove into thousands of hours of sweat equity.
By the summer of 2012, we finally reached a point where we could request and receive our occupency certificate to operate a theater.
Now with 11 of our own productions under our belts, 3 productions in collaboration with the Fitchburg Theatre Company, a practical collaboration with Fitchburg State University students, and other sponsoring efforts with the Greater Worcester Opera Company, The Montachusett Chorale and other local performance companies, New Players Theatre Guild is entering it 40th year of operation in the city of Fitchburg.
In our new venue, our critically acclaimed offerings have included, "ANNIE," "THE SECRET GARDEN," and the classic commedy. "HARVEY."
In addition to musical and theatrical offerings, we have also made our Performing Arts Center affordable and available to local dance teachers for performance of their recitals. Rental of other spaces is becoming prohibitive even for these events.
Although we strive for, and do receive, some small local cultural grants, those of us involved in NPTG create these theatrical opportunities because of our love, dedication and belief in the transformative powers of local community theater. None of us receive pay; creating theater is our after work "job."
EVERY presentation we have offered at The New Players Theatre Guild Center for the Performing Arts has made a profit by coming in under-budget, but that is not enough to sustain the center for the arts that we hoped would be our legacy to Fitchburg and its surrounding communities.
We are very proud of how far we've come, but we still need YOUR help.
We are most immediately in need of a Heating System, Roof Repairs, Updated Electrical work and more modern Building Insulation.
Our grand opening show was entitled, "Don't Stop Believin.' " We haven't given up yet.
For more background and current information on NPTG, visit New Players Theatre Guild on Facebook and our website: nptg.org
Thank you for your interest and support.
One step forward, one step back..
We had 4 "mini-split" Mitsubishi heating/cooling systems installed in the fall and they are working great! But as often happens, another problem arose during our recent record-breaking cold wave.
I know that many of you have already heard that we had a pipe burst at the theater, which probably happened sometime during the storm on Thursday.
Given that we are not running the central heating, I have had heaters in all the bathrooms, basement and kitchen and have had thermometers everywhere, which I have monitored on a daily basis.
Everything seemed to be OK, as all the spaces were staying at least in the 40's on the coldest days, but due some poor design by previous occupants, pipes were run to the upstairs bathroom, through a "void" over the men's room, with exposure to the upper half of the window and little insulation and no access to heat. The adjuster agreed that given the "historic" length of the cold snap, the freeze was pretty inevitable.
I am trying to keep the story short, but the leak went on to trip the ground fault breakers, shut down other heaters, 5 inches of water in the cellar and thus more damage.
So now what?
I am pretty confident that we will get a satisfactory settlement with the insurance company, but the more of the work we can do ourselves, the better.
First, we need to get a plumber in to evaluate the situation and hopefully isolate the girl's room, so we have at least one working bathroom and provide some kind of market value estimate to the insurance company. Any plumbers (or recommendations) out there?
Once the pipes are fixed and perhaps rerouted, we'll need to rebuild the men's room itself. I do sets, but that's a little different. Any experienced sheet rockers who could help out?
We have still not heard about the release of the remainder of our grants, which will help with the cost of the second, needed heating system.
We also had our elevator fail in the spring and we are looking at another $10,000, more or less to get that back in service. It does not preclude us from running the theater, but we sadly have to turn some physically challenged people away from our show.
We had a very successful year of theatre, but we are still not generating enough income to fully maintain this historic building that we love and suits our needs so well.
Any donation, large or small would be appreciated!
I'll try keep you updated on the process
We are a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation, so your donations are fully tax deductible.
Happy New Year and Thanks!
A lot has happened since my last update.
In a nutshell, we have reached a point, with new technology heating systems, that we can afford to install NOW, thus we are going ahead with plans for "The Wizard of Oz," with heat in the theater itself.
We have yet to come up with a final plan for the rest of the building and still need to strive for matching the additional $15,000 available to us to finance an additional system or systems for the lower level.
I'll apologize in advance for the length of this article but I hope you are interested to read on..
The most "changing" thing that happened was having Jane's Granata's cousin, John Comeau visited the theater. He owns Select Mechanical of Leominster and specializes in the sales and installation of Mitsubishi "split" heating and cooling systems, which have been very popular in Europe for some time, but coming into more common use in the US. They are highly efficient wall mounted systems and can be installed in no more than a day. We will be installing 4 individual units to handle the theater for heating and cooling. Although we do not have a number on the electrical work yet, we know the total will come under $15,000.
We have also produced two successful shows; John Leslie's wonderful performance of "Liberace" at Leominster City Hall and had a great experience with our first Children't Workshop show, "Pom-Pom Zombies." (Thanks to the Baldwins for directing and choreographing for free and the numerous donations from the cast's families that turned our concession into an "all-profit" affair.
In addition, thanks to Steve Christofono for organizing "dining for a cause" nights, some corporate and private donations and donations of goods or services from Marc Babineau of Babineau Insurance, "The Coffee News," Dodos Phlowers, Economy Paint and others I might forget to mention.
As a result of all this hard work, going into September, we had actually raised in excess of $10,000 for the cause. But since the regular bills go on.. insurance, mortgage, utilities, etc. so we still didn't have enough to match one of our two $10,000 matching pledges from the Crocker or Wallace Foundations. A match of only a $5,000 would not move us forward.
Knowing that we had "actually" raised in excess of $10,000, President Nancy King wrote to Mr. Martin Connors, President of Rollstone Bank and Trust and Chairman of the Wallace and Crocker Foundations. Understanding what we needed to move ahead, he agreed to release $5,000 from the Rollstone Foundation and $5,000 from the Crocker Foundation.
So, with some success behind us, we are still not out of the woods. If we do not reach another pledge level for the downstairs heating, we may need to get through for some time on electric heating, which will be costly and inconvenient.
The alternative is much more costly.. shutting down for the winter and giving up on the Wizard of Oz. and disappointing a lot of kids.. something we don't want to do.
Of course fund-raising will never end, when we own a beautiful building like this and our business is The Arts.
We now have OVER 900 followers on Facebook who must care about what we do, right?
Gofundme.com/nptg-campaign will accept any donation, big or small. If many of you gave a little, we'be on our way to our goal of matching those grants. We will continue to pursue available grants to keep the NPTG Center live.
As always, we will try to find ways to thank you and our community by keeping the arts alive an well in Fitchburg.
Special thanks to President Nancy King, V.P. Jane Granata, James Stephen, Bill McSheehy and others for making this happen.
This is a major step for NPTG as these are our first MAJOR grants, evidencing the fact that we are finally being accepted as a valued member of the Fitchburg arts community.
Now the ball is in our court. We need to reach at least $50,000 to go ahead with our new system.
Now that we have some high-profile foundations on our side, we think we will have more success with local businesses and institutions, so we will be contacting them. It's also a chance for YOU to make a difference.
We have nearly 900 followers on Facebook. Consider helping us reach our goal. We'll try to find a way to thank you.
You can make your tax deductible donation here or send a check to NPTG, 15 Rollstone Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420
Happy Spring to all our members, Facebook and GoFundMe followers!
As many of you know, we narrowly averted shutting down the theatre earlier this year, because of the aging condition of our heating plant. Although repaired enough to make it through, "Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike," this is the last heating season for the system.
We are looking at trying to raise $40,000 to $60,000, by the fall of 2017, to install a new, highly efficient system, that would suit our needs for many years into the future. Fortunately, we are faced with this problem when we have the most time to fix it.
A bank account was set up today as the "Furnace Account" so that the fund will be kept separate from the general funds. In ear-marking the raffle and concession income from "Vanya and.." this account starts out with nearly $1000.00.
The board is working hard on other fund-raising possibilities; large and small.
With the advice of Mayor Steve DiNatale and local fund-raising "guru" Bill McSheehy, Jane Granata, Nancy King and Bill McGrath have been working on grant letters and applications to local charities such as the Wallace and Rollstone Foundations. Fortified with some success with these, we hope to apply for a larger state matching "facilities" grant.
Others are working on more frequent fund raising events at local restaurants. Watch for invitations!
I realize that some of you who read this may have a lot of experience with "the business" of community theatre, but others may just have a passing interest.
In this continuing series of articles, I'd like to keep you involved in the process and let you know more about NPTG.
It is my hope that as you learn more about New Players Theatre Guild, we'll earn your financial support.
You'll be receiving more direct requests than this, but I am taking on the job of keeping you interested and informed. I'd appreciate any suggestions you have and will try to answer your questions.
Look forward to my next installment: "Our building.. out greatest blessing but.."
Should you be immediately moved to make a donation, we can accept donations directly if mailed to NPTG, 15 Rollstone Street, Fitchburg, MA 01420, on GoFundme.com (nptg-campaign) or on our webpage nptg.org, through Paypal. We hope to soon facilitate a "channel 2 style" monthly "pledge campaign," as well, for those who might prefer an automatic monthly donation.
My deepest apologies that I can't help at this time. In a couple of months I will happily donate what I can. I have a history with many longtime NPTG people and have many friends in the ranks. I proudly participated in productions of "My Sister Eileen" and "My Three Angels" in the late 70s and a revival of "1776" staged at MWCC ....involving many New Players .... I have very fond memories of many other productions with these people at other venues such as the Bull Run and Landlord Ben's .I wish you great success in this endeavor. And if the spirits of people like Sandy Couture ,Howard Kimmel and others who have moved on to the Big Stage are looking on ,you WILL be successful....New Players gets in your blood and you NEVER forget.
Unless it's a prequel I don't know about, the musical is called 1776.