$40k matching grant awarded to Dorset theater

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DORSET — The Dorset Theatre Festival is starting its 40th season with a $40,000 matching grant initiative in honor of the special year. A local, anonymous donor pledged to match new contributors' gifts to encourage community investment.

Every dollar previous donors gave in 2016 will be matched above that amount. This year if donors double the amount they contributed in 2016, it will be matched 100 percent, thus doubling the investment impact.

For example, if someone donated $10 in 2016, and donated $15 this year, the match would be $5. Additionally, if that person donated $10 last year and $20 this year, the match would be $20.

Dorset Theatre Festival operates on a $850,000 annual budget with 52 percent of its income provided by foundations, government, corporate contributions, special events and grants. Roughly 30 percent of that stems from individual donors, estimated Molly Hennighausen, festival managing director.

"This donor is really trying to foster an environment of giving," Hennighausen said. "We're just really humble. If they can match the gifts, others will be encouraged."

Later this month the festival will host a phone-a-thon as part of the grant challenge, with help from board members, Hennighausen said.

Through the online donation platform, Hennighausen said she can determine which donors are new or returning.

"We are humbled by the generosity of this amazing donor, who wants to encourage others in our community and region to support Dorset Theatre Festival as we head into our 40th anniversary season," said Artistic Director Dina Janis in a release.

Those who wish to donate can do so online at www.dorsettheatrefestival.org or by mailing a check to PO Box 510, Dorset, Vt.

The festival's board of trustees was revamped as well. Patricia Nelson was named the new president in November, as well as a new board chair, Kim Beaty.

According to a release from Nov. 18, Nelson is a property attorney specializing in copyright, trademark, media and entertainment law.

Beaty hails from a Broadway family — her grandfather, composer Richard Rodgers, is from Rodger and Hammerstein and Rodgers and Hart fame (influential American musical lyricists), and her mother, Mary Rodgers, was an acclaimed musical theater composer and author. Additionally, Beaty's brother, Adam Guettel, is a Vermonter and musical theater composer/lyricist and Tony award winner. Beaty moved to Vermont six years ago while visiting her brother and also works as a portrait artist.

"It's astounding to me that our festival, which is practically in my new backyard, manages consistently to offer our community the same quality of performance that one could see on and off Broadway," Beaty stated in the release.

In addition to what's new at the festival, the release concludes by saying it's a celebration season of "Expect the Unexpected."

The Dorset Theatre Festival runs from June to September with four main stage productions involving various playwrights, actors and directors from across the country.

For more information, visit dorsettheatrefestival.org.

Reach staff writer Makayla-Courtney McGeeney at 802-490-6471 or @MC_McGeeney.


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