Congress Cuts Woolly’s Funding

The following message went out on Friday to subscribers to Woolly Mammoth Theater’s email news list. Woolly Mammoth Theater is located at 641 D Street NW is Penn Quarter.

Dear Friends,

We need your help. Yesterday, Congress cut $38 billion out of the U.S. government’s current-year budget. Among the many programs they slashed was the National Capital Arts Program.

A quarter of a century ago, Congress established this small Interior Department program to support DC’s major performing arts companies and museums. It was developed in recognition of the vital role these institutions play in creating a vibrant national capital city that millions of Americans visit each year. Unlike every other state in the union, DC does not have a state arts council that provides operating support for its cultural institutions.

This program provided $318,000 in funding to Woolly Mammoth last season – a significant amount, representing 8% of our $4 million annual operating budget.

Congress cut the National Capital Arts Program by 70% this week, meaning Woolly will lose almost $200,000 in funding this year. While this represents a fraction of the U.S. budget, it opens a sizable gap in our budget that would be tough to close any year; but to receive this news with just four months left in the fiscal year (ending July 31st) presents an extraordinary challenge.

The response plan we have developed includes:

1) Expense Reductions ($50,000) – Department heads are scouring their budgets for every penny of savings to be captured in the remaining quarter of the year. We have already cut travel and registration for conferences and staff training; we’re putting off repairs and capital purchases; and we’re delaying new hires. Finally, we are exploring the idea of a weeklong staff furlough.

2) Earned Revenue Enhancements ($75,000) – The popularity of Mike Daisey’s current show, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, has prompted serious exploration of a reprise in July – we’ll know more on this soon. Meanwhile, we are freeing up as much time in our building as possible to accommodate rentals for weddings, receptions, and other events.

3) Contributed Revenue Enhancements ($75,000) – We must increase individual giving from $450,000 to $525,000 this year. Any amount you can give will make a real difference and ensure that Woolly weathers this latest political storm and continues to ‘defy convention.’

Woolly’s artists, staff, and Board will work their hardest to maximize savings and revenues; but we need your support to achieve this revised goal for contributed revenue. If we can succeed with all three parts of our plan, it will see us through in the short-term while we plan and prepare for reduced funding from the National Capital Arts Program over the long-term.

If you’ve been supportive of Woolly’s work in the past (or even this season), thank you for your support and for considering an additional gift at this critical time. And if you’ve never given a gift to Woolly before, please, now is the time. By helping us meet this challenge, you’ll be playing a vital role in maintaining Woolly’s long history of fiscal health and responsibility. You will enable us to continue supporting local artists and producing the most innovative new plays in America.

Thank you for your consideration.

Most Sincerely,

Howard Shalwitz
Artistic Director


Jeffrey Herrmann
Managing Director

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  1. 1

    tod says

    This sucks for local theater groups. But, at least its one less reason for the rest of the country to hate us. Why should DC get special appropriations for the arts? The state argument is a cop out. NYC is a net loser with NYS when it comes to tax dollars.