The Washington Arts Center operates in the dark

By Lorilyn C. Lirio

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts is financially afloat despite closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization’s executive director, Jill Barnes, said at Olympia’s finance committee meeting on Wednesday, 20 april.

Barnes said the arts center hasn’t had much activity since March 2020 and through the pandemic year, but they closed fiscal 2021 with $3.9 million in assets and net income of $1.1 million.

Barnes added that the arts center had received two payroll protection loans of $239,165 each and obtained loan forgiveness for both – one in 2021 and the other in March this year.

“We are very happy to have these erased from our books,” Barnes remarked.

For fiscal 2021, Barnes said the organization’s net operating income ended at $525,515 and its investing activity ended the year at $628,214, for a total of 1 .1 million dollars.

Like other agencies, the arts center implemented austerity measures and worked on its business practices, including operational staff working reduced hours.

Barnes said they received $515,345 in Shuttered Venue Operator grant funding in the current fiscal year, adding that they received an additional award of $377,255 in November.

“We’re in a really good position and we’re just excited to get back to work and get back to putting on great events,” Barnes said.

Barnes said they expect to operate in the red, but they have their finances close to $10,000 in the black thanks to the merchandise they handle.

Jim Cooper, a member of the finance committee, advised Barnes to apply for an employee retention credit from the IRS, which applies to businesses that have lost revenue due to the pandemic.

Some of the challenges faced by the Center during the pandemic include the postponement of shows from 2020 and a higher no-show rate. They were selling few tickets and losing a lot of customers because most of them weren’t interested in showing their vaccination records or getting tested.

“That’s true across the country,” Barnes said. “Our story is similar to what all of my colleagues see.”

But in mid-February 2021, Barned reported seeing ticket sales increase.

About Madeline J. Carter

Check Also

Priestley College performing arts students talk about their return to action

PICTURE this. You’re in your living room trying to get into a group routine because …