Since Stephen asked in a comment on my last post, if you don't live in the area, how exactly does one make a donation to the James Tolin Memorial Fund? Very simple. Go to http://www.jtmf.org/ and click on "Make a Donation." Your secure, tax-deductible transaction is handled by PayPal, and on-line donations go towards our production costs.
The JTMF raises funds for AIDS and Arts Education charities in New Jersey and Africa by producing an annual event which features a fully-staged production of an LGBT-themed comedy. We perform at the Kelsey Theatre on the campus of Mercer County Community College, in West Windsor, NJ. 100% of our box-office goes to our beneficiaries, which include the Open Arms Foundation - an organization which provides support and services for NJ residents with HIV, as well as HIV prevention and treatment programs in Africa - and the James Tolin Memorial Scholarship, which provides tuition assistance to worthy Performance Arts majors at MCCC. In the past, the JTMF has also supported Graffiti Productions, an organization which fostered performance art education to inner-city youth at risk. And we will soon be announcing a new beneficiary: an inner-city youth theatre company from Trenton, NJ, which specializes in HIV/AIDS Prevention Programming, Visit the JTMF site and watch here for more details.
Our annual June Gala includes tickets to the show (in the past we have presented productions of Jeffrey; Torch Song Trilogy; Mr. Charles, Currently of Palm Springs; The Altruists and What the Butler Saw). We try to include LGBT content in all of our shows, and because it's as much about honoring a fallen friend as it is about raising money, we only do comedies. We also have a catered reception, usually themed around the production, and a silent auction of gifts and services from both local and national merchants. All Silent Auction proceeds go toward next year's production costs.
The JTMF tries to be edgy and for this particular venue, we are. Our target audience is sophisticated, wealthy and gay. As a director, I've pushed buttons and envelopes at the venue (which used to be known as "The Family Theatre."), and am pushing both with this next show. Luckily, I have a producer (and a few other folks) who trust me enough to create something both artistically satisfying and politically eye-opening, as well. We've already gotten at least two complaints that I know of, one via email and one via phone. But our past successes have seen an edgier take from other companies who also use the venue, so maybe we're upping the ante, which is also good.
The Kelsey still prides itself on musicals and children's theatre, which is good for sales, but it's nice to see that they are willing to allow more sophisticated fare. You can find out more about the Kelsey, their seasons' offerings and even order tickets for their shows here. Several companies work in the space, an intimate amphitheatre with no bad seats and one can see everything from travelling children's companies and circuses, to local community theatre companies' productions. NJ's Prestigious Shakespeare '70 calls Kelsey their summer home (they usually go up right after the JTMF show - this year marks their first ever production of "Romeo and Juliet). The Kelsey is also home to Maurer Productions, which stages elaborate productions of classic musicals and modern dramas.
We are also teaming up with the MCCC student production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America. Friday, April 24 will be "Pride Night" at the Kelsey, with ticket proceeds going towards this year's JTMF production of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told.
If you are in the area and can attend our events, we would love to see you there. If you aren't, and still want to help us out, please visit our site and make a donation. I continue to espouse the notion that Art can (and will) save the world. I hope that you will help save Art, so it can.