Appeal

 

July 22, 2019
 
Dear Friends of Freehold,
 
As we write, the future of Freehold is in serious doubt and we need your help.
 
Summer classes are kicking off and the Engaged Theatre production of ‘As You Like It’ is about to close in Magnuson Park after spending a week on tour, performing in prisons, detention centers, and parks. On the surface it may appear as though things are ticking along as usual. In fact, Freehold is experiencing a profound financial squeeze and we are at risk of closing our doors by October 1 if we cannot change course.  
 
The board and staff are asking for your help to keep Freehold going. In the interest of transparency, we offer the following context for the current state of affairs.
 
In June 2017 we moved into our new studio space at 517 Maynard Avenue South. The studio spaces and offices (which had been disused and derelict for over a decade) were completely renovated by Freehold. We did extensive fundraising for the capital campaign to fund the renovation, raising $250,000, but unanticipated complications in the renovation work resulted in the project running significantly over budget, to the tune of approximately $190,000.
 
In order to complete the project, Freehold took out a long-term bank loan of $100,000, raised $40,000 in personal loans from the board, and used our bank line of credit of $50,000 to complete payments to our contractor. These decisions, while necessary and expedient to complete the move to Maynard and keep Freehold running, resulted in our cash flow becoming extremely tight, making it difficult for us to make payroll and pay bills. Freehold’s income from tuition, grants, and donations, does not come in on a predictable and reliable schedule, while payroll, rent, and bills roll in on a very predictable schedule.
 
As we were beginning to regain some stability, just over a year after the move to Maynard, in September 2018, a pipe burst underneath the building and Freehold’s newly renovated studios and offices were flooded. As a result, we had to move out of our space, set up temporary office space nearby, and scramble to find spaces for classes in other parts of Seattle. We were out of our space for 6 months while the pipe was replaced and the walls and floors replaced in the bathrooms and offices. Freehold had insurance to help pay for replacing lost items and office equipment, but we did not have loss of business insurance. As a result of the flood, Freehold lost approximately $40,000 in tuition and rentals.
 
In addition, in the months following the flood, Freehold’s Managing Director and Registrar both left the organization (for reasons unrelated to the above events), resulting in 100% turnover of our core staff. This meant losing a lot of institutional knowledge and experience, which made recovering from the flood all the more challenging.
 
While all of these major events were happening, Freehold’s annual budgets have been carefully planned and diligently followed year after year. The financial squeeze we are experiencing is a direct result of the move and the flood. Our day-to-day operations have been prudently managed on a very lean budget.
 
Having increased insurance coverage and a prudent reserve emergency fund would have softened the impact of these unexpected and costly events, and are medium term future goals.
 
First, we must find a way to survive.
 
Our goal is to raise $100,000 by November 15. 
 
Our amazing board is showing their commitment to the future of Freehold by pledging $25,000 to kick this effort off.
 
Our plan is to collect pledges rather than donations until we reach a pledged amount of $50,000, at which point we will call in the pledged donations. 
 
If we are unable to reach $50,000 in pledges by September 15, it will not be financially feasible to keep Freehold running and we will begin the process of winding down Freehold as an organization, closing our doors on October 1.
 
$50,000 will pay off our line of credit and $50,000 will become a cash reserve for us to draw on to smooth out cash flow issues, with a commitment to making the cash reserve whole (i.e. balance restored to $50,000) by the end of every financial year. 
 
Would you consider joining the board in pledging to support the future of Freehold? We need you. Together we can get Freehold back on its feet.  
 
 
As always, feel free to call either Robin, Charlotte or any board members you know personally with any questions.
 
From all of us at Freehold, thank you.  
 
 
Charlotte Tiencken, Managing Director
Robin Lynn Smith, Founding Artistic Director
Aaron Moore, Board President
 
 
 
Please feel free to share this letter with anyone else you think might want to help out.