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'A Midsummer Night's Dream' : 500 Expected To Attend Scr Fund-raising Gala

September 05, 1986|RICK VANDERKNYFF

Renaissance-style dancers, musicians and jugglers will greet guests Saturday at "A Midsummer Night's Dream," South Coast Repertory Theatre's gala fund-raising ball.

An estimated 500 guests will attend the event, which is expected to raise up to $115,000 for the theater. The evening begins in Costa Mesa's Town Center Park, continues with an outdoor reception, and concludes with dinner and dancing in The Westin South Coast Plaza ballroom, with big band entertainment by singer Rosemary Clooney and Tex Beneke and his Orchestra.

The event will launch the coming theatrical season and raise money for SCR's annual fund, which helps pay operating costs of the two-stage complex in Costa Mesa. The annual fund target for the 1986-87 fiscal year is $1.1 million.

Corporate and private donors have underwritten the cost of the gala to the tune of $130,000. Ticket proceeds, at $250 a head, will raise between $100,000 and $115,000 for the annual fund, according to gala chairman Judy Threshie.

The gala is SCR's first major event since theater trustees announced a five-year, $12-million fund-raising campaign in July. The amount includes $5.5 million in annual funds to help cover operating expenses for the five years from September, 1985, to August, 1990, and $3 million to fund the 11,000-square-foot Artists Center, now under construction at the theater. The addition includes expanded office and rehearsal space.

Also included in the campaign is a $3.5-million endowment. "We decided to create an endowment fund that would make us a more viable entity," explained SCR board of trustees president John O'Donnell. "All of us in business know that you can't operate on cash flow alone, as the theater has until recently. Our budget now is getting to the size where we can no longer comfortably do that."

The fund would create and endow SCR's new Collaboration Laboratory, also known as Colab, which will support development of new plays through workshops, commissions and readings.

"We cannot launch ourselves on a program of promoting new plays and playwrights and commissioning new works if we must sit and wait to see how much money we bring in," O'Donnell explained.

Pledges for capital and endowment totaling $2.5 million had already been raised when the campaign was announced in July. "We are now finishing our major contributor campaign," O'Donnell said in a telephone interview this week. In the coming weeks, the campaign will be expanded and the theater will solicit donations of "$25,000 down to $5," O'Donnell said.

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