Totem Pole Playhouse Launches Second Phase Of On-going Capital Improvement Campaign And Renovations

Totem Pole Playhouse, America's beloved summer theatre located in Caledonia State Park between Gettysburg and Chambersburg, PA, is launching the second phase of a two-phase Capital Campaign to raise funds for on-going renovations of the historic Playhouse's facilities. Totem Pole hopes to raise $400,000.00. The funds for the first phase, $120,000.00, has been reached and expended. Phase Two seeks to raise an additional $280,000.00 from grants, corporate funding, and individual donations.

"We purposely established the capital campaign to be in two phases so that we could ideally complete some of the much needed improvements at the Playhouse in time for this season." Totem Pole's Producing Artistic Director, Rowan Joseph said. Initial contributions from patrons, coupled with record-breaking ticket sales from last summer, has allowed the Playhouse's offices to be relocated from a temporary on-site construction trailer to a new permanent facility next to the Playhouse. "The park service was kind enough to grant us a three-year permit to set up offices in the trailer which we are now having removed 10 years later," joked Joseph, "The state reluctantly granted us several renewals and we are all very happy to see the site returned to its original natural setting." Joseph noted that the move will save Totem Pole over $5,000.00 a year in rental fees and other associated costs.

The new office facility replaced the Playhouse's original rehearsal hall with work already begun on a new rehearsal space housed in part of the old scenic shop. A long-term, open-ended lease on a nearby 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse allowed the Playhouse to move its set construction operation off-site last year, which it now shares with Chambersburg Community Theatre.

Sue McMurtray, Totem Pole's Marketing Director noted, "We're renovating rather than building. Rowan's idea was to save money by repurposing existing square footage rather than taking on the cost and financial burden of all new construction, which frankly we couldn't afford anyway." McMurtray noted that some of the initial costs for the new rehearsal hall were able to be covered by box office revenue from last season. "For the first time in Totem Pole's 67-year history, we had over $1,000,000.00 net ticket sales - $1,131,477.00 to be exact."

Joseph explained that the new office will reduce operating expenses immediately and that the new rehearsal facility will help to generate added revenue beginning this fall. "The plan is to offer on-camera TV and film classes, as well as dance and musical theatre training programs in the space during the off-season. The Playhouse will continue to operate strictly during the summer months since the theatre doesn't have heat, only air-conditioning. Renovations to the former scenic shop building will include air conditioning and heat, allowing us to launch the Totem Pole Playhouse Academy this fall. With only 342 seats and a 12-week season, we need to continue to develop additional streams of revenue in order to assure Totem Pole's future."

Phase Two of the renovations will include an accessible family restroom, new women's restroom facilities, a souvenir shop, ice cream stand, and a large outdoor patio deck with tables, chairs and umbrellas. Additionally, a break room with a private bathroom, male and female changing rooms for dancers, and appropriate flooring and mirrors for the wall will be added to the new year-round rehearsal hall; lighting, sound, and film equipment will be purchased for the Totem Pole Academy.

Totem Pole hopes to have all of the renovations completed in time for the Playhouse's 70th anniversary season, the summer of 2020.

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