April 24, 2018
Microdonations Help Merrimack Repertory Theatre Win Grant

May 28, 2017 — Merrimack Repertory Theatre, a Lowell nonprofit that focuses on producing contemporary plays, announced that it raised $47,000 during a month of performances, enabling it to secure the largest challenge match grant in its 38-year history.

Merrimack Repertory Theatre (MRT) hailed the fundraising campaign, which was conducted during performance of My 80-Year-Old Boyfriend, as "a major milestone."

The effort, which surpassed a $35,000 goal, enabled MRT to win a $35,000 match grant provided by two anonymous donors.

MRT Artistic Director Sean Daniels said, “It's a tribute to the donors and community we have here. This was our largest matching gift in the theatre's history, and our audience made sure we met and exceeded it."

The $47,000 was raised in microdonations, small contributions by many individuals, much of it coming through collection boxes inside the theatre lobby following performances held April 26 – May 21.

Charissa Bertels, who starred in the show, played a significant role in the fundraising effort, directly asking audiences to contribute after every performance, MRT said.

The $82,000 raised in the campaign will support two education programs: Student Matinees, which bring middle and high school students from across the region to see MRT shows, often giving students their first ever theatre experience; and Young Company, in which students create and perform original theatre pieces in the summer, then stay connected to the MRT community all year long through workshops and master classes with MRT’s visiting artists.

“Microdonations are a powerful force in modern fundraising and philanthropy,” noted Nick Kane, MRT’s interim director of development. “We see them everywhere – in the political campaigns of Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders, for example.”

MRT recently launched what it described as an ambitious lineup of initiatives in the development of new stage work, including the Patriot Program, which brings the nation’s top playwrights, directors, designers, and actors to Lowell; and partnerships with the University of Massachusetts Lowell and Middlesex Community College to workshop and develop new plays.

MRT has been Merrimack Valley’s professional theatre company since 1979, and is now an integral part of Lowell’s identity as the cultural heart of the region, producing "vibrant, contemporary plays that explore what it means to be alive today."

A seven-show season runs from September through May in the 279-seat Nancy L. Donahue Theatre. The company is known as a leader in producing new plays, especially world and regional premieres. MRT is one of 72 theaters nationwide, one of three in Massachusetts, with membership in the League of Resident Theatres.

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