Comparing the Kahilu Theatre Foundation to the mythical phoenix that rises from its ashes is an apt description, according to the foundation’s president.
“We’re definitely coming out of the ashes,” said Mimi Kerley. “We had to cancel the 2012-13 season because the economic climate during the past four years resulted in a decline in ticket sales and financial support.”
Kerley said the theater relies on donations from a wide variety of sources, including government agencies, private foundations, local businesses, local philanthropists and theater patrons. She said most donor groups have felt the impact of the economic downturn in 2008.
“In addition to a decline in grants and donations, ticket sales plummeted almost 50 percent between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 seasons,” Kerley said. “The board has been acting as staff so we could keep the doors open, including the two galleries.
“But we put together a few fundraisers and raised enough money to pay off our debt of $25,000 and satisfy our creditors. Right now, we’re working with Tim Bostock Productions to put together a full 2012-13 season. He is our advocate and is now on our board of directors.”
Bostock’s company, based in Honolulu since 1999, is reputed to be a leading presenter of avant-garde and off-Broadway productions in the islands. The company has co-produced with the University of Hawaii Outreach College, produced Hawaii Tourism Authority’s Arts Season, presented a series of music nights at the Hawaii Convention Authority’s Arts Season and a series of outdoor concerts at the Hawaii State Art Museum called Live from the Lawn.
Bostock is also business director of the ARTS at Marks Garage and has been a board member of Honolulu Theatre for Youth for the past nine years, holding the presidency for six years.
Kerley said the theater board needs to get all its ducks in a row before starting a new production, and that the foundation wants to start working more closely with other Waimea art related agencies and organizations.
“We need to get sponsorship before all our performances and make sure we have all our costs covered before we sign artists,” she explained. “We haven’t always done that in the past. And, yes, part of our mission is to engage, partner and work more with Waimea community art organizations.
“We’ve had some preliminary talks, but more negotiations will take place after our schedule is solidified. We want to develop more art programs, feature more artists in the galleries and use them for art classes and training docents,” she continued. “We want to be a community hub to learn about art in all forms and really want to be a resource for the community.”
Miguel Bray, Waimea Community Theatre vice president, said he welcomed Kahilu Theatre’s resurrection. Waimea Community Theatre currently stages its performances at the Parker School Theatre.
“Yes, we are genuinely excited they have regained their feet financially,” Bray said. “We’re uniformly positive about the whole thing and hope they are a success.
“Part of their coming back has brought them to take a look at other forms of community entertainment. I do hope they will make the theater more accessible to local groups. It’s just been too expensive in the past.”