TECUMSEH — One of the hardest hit parts of Tecumseh during the coronavirus pandemic was the Tecumseh Center for the Arts, which in the past few months has been forced to cancel its shows, rentals and fundraisers.

In order to maintain baseline operations and be able to come back after the pandemic is over, the TCA began on online fundraising drive April 15 with the goal of raising $20,000 in 15 days. As of Wednesday afternoon, $21,586 had been donated as some donations continued in after the deadline.

In a blog post on the TCA website, TCA executive director Kelly Jo Gilmore described the challenges in the coming months despite having a very good start to the theater’s 39th season.

“March (through) June are usually our busiest times of the year and lost revenue from ticket sales, fundraisers, renters and donations is going to be difficult to overcome,” Gilmore wrote. “To date we have lost $20,000 in revenue and if the executive order stays in place through the remainder of our season, that loss will be closer to $60,000. Coupled with the loss of $20,000 in our endowment due to the stock market means we will have an $80,000 deficit.”

She continued by acknowledging that it is a challenging time financially for many community members, but asked those who are able to contribute donations, even if it won’t make up the full amount lost by the theater.

Gilmore wrote that the theater will pursue grant applications, but being owned by a municipality makes it ineligible for many grants.

“It is true that Tecumseh Center for the Arts is owned by the city of Tecumseh; however, this does not mean the city of Tecumseh has specific tax dollars allocated to support the theater each year,” she wrote. “At a time where our police department, fire department, water department and city hall are essential, the theater knows we need to help make sure these other departments have the resources they need to take care of the community.”

The campaign “Together We Can” was launched, posting updates on the TCA Facebook page as donations rolled in. The fundraiser reached its goal around 9:30 p.m. April 30, hours before the fundraiser was supposed to end.

“To each and every one of you who made the choice to support the theater and this campaign — thank you. Your donations are worth so much more than their monetary value,” Gilmore wrote in an blog post March 1. “You have reminded us all that love, compassion and generosity is what will get us through this difficult and challenging time. Thank you for inspiring us and reminding us what is truly important — people and the community we build together.”

Tecumseh City Manager Dan Swallow, during his report to the Tecumseh City Council at its meeting Monday, told the council members of the theater’s successful fund drive.

“We really want to thank those that thought about the TCA during these tough times and made a contribution,” he said. “We got a donation (from) as far away as Dallas, Texas.”

Swallow said that the theater was working on a plan to reopen, though it is uncertain when that will occur as large public gatherings will probably be the last to be allowed after the pandemic subsides.

“But (they’re) continuing to try to put the pieces in place so when we are allowed to have shows and different activities there, we'll be ready to hit the ground running,” he said.

During the meeting, Swallow asked the council to approve an application by the theater to the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs Emergency Relief Support Grant.

The theater was seeking approval to apply for the maximum amount of $5,000.

The money would be used to help support the box office manager who is working on planning for future events, as many theater bookings must be done far in advance.

"We'd like to keep that individual working as close to maximum number of hours as possible to complete that planning for the one day when we can hopefully reopen,” Swallow told the council.

According to Swallow, the funds will also be used to cover costs such as utility payments that are ongoing even when the building is not being utilized.

“We are obviously hopeful that we’re funded,” he said. “I know in the past, some of our grant applications may not have been funded at the full amount or the full request, but typically, we are successful in at least receiving some of those funds.”

The council voted unanimously to approve the request.