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GR Civic Theatre rebounds from pandemic with group's help

Consulting group helps more than 100 non-profits rebound from the pandemic
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre 2021
Posted at 8:44 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 11:14:27-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  — Businesses across many industries were adversely impacted by the pandemic, including nonprofit organizations.

But, like they say in show business, "the show must go on," even during a pandemic.

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre recently announced their show will go for the 96th season, following a 15-month hiatus of in-person performances.

The theatre announced its 96th season with an exciting lineup of entertainment including the feature of Once, Black Bold and Beautiful: Onward Together, The Sound of Music, Shakespeare in Love, Dragons Love Tacos, Civic Theater's Ten For All play writing festival, and Kinky Boots.

"I'm thoroughly gratified that we're able to come out relatively in the same place that we went in," said Bruce Tinker, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre executive director. "We haven't lost a lot of ground."

The pause and lack of tickets sales lead to job loss, renovation projects being postponed, and program cuts - including their widely successful theatre school.

"I knew that the organization itself would survive. What you don't know is what does that look like?," said Tinker. "It really was a time of reset. I think a lot of people felt that way. You know, it was a time of like, well, okay, I normally would be doing these things. Now, what am I doing? What's different? And how do I accomplish that?"

Helping them reset is Kennari consulting, a non-profit fundraising consulting firm based in West Michigan.

Just before the pandemic, the two were working together on a comprehensive campaign to raise $13 million to support capital, endowment, and programming over the course of three years.

But then the pandemic hit and an additional goal was set to raise $1 million to support the 96th season.

"They really took a pretty big hit in terms of that portion of their annual budget that comes from ticket sales," said Sandi Frost Steensma, Kennari consulting president and CEO. "So, we really focused on trying to help beef up sort of the annual fundraising portion of their annual fund. But also, they came up with some extremely creative ways to continue their work."

And it wasn't just the civic theatre who needed their services, Kennari worked with more than 100 clients during the pandemic, raising millions of dollars.

Steensma says people were not-surprising very giving during the pandemic.

"There was a probably a moment of panic in the very beginning. And then after that everybody sort of settled in, and some really good tools came in for virtual fundraising," said Steensma.

And it's those tools that are now helping non-profits like the civic theatre re-open their doors and welcome patrons once again and bring their performers back home.

The Grand Rapids Civic Theatre is welcoming back patrons before the officials launch of the 96th season with the production of The Musical Adventures of Flat Stanley.

To learn more about 96th season and The Grand Rapids Theatre, click here.

For more information about the non-profit consulting work Kennari provides, click here.

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READ MORE: Muskegon Civic Theater returns with live performances this fall

READ MORE: WEST MICHIGAN REBOUND