Dear Friends,

From the beginning of my time here, I have been tasked to lead this organization through an urgent metamorphosis that turned a corner from preservation into operation. We have taken on much work and accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time. Simple business fundamentals and behaviors needed to be developed and put into motion immediately, and I am proud to say that we began to operate in the black within about 90 days of the Lettermen concert in September of 2019 that put our operations into motion.

As we began the month of March in 2020, we had already presented the Danville Symphony Orchestra and Danville Light Opera on the Fischer’s historic stage, arranged for several local nonprofit organizations and charities to utilize the theatre for fundraising efforts, hosted live concerts, and had begun showing films on the regular – from classics to art films. I made the decision to invest in hiring an additional staff member to ensure we were positioned to grow.

As the pandemic began to unravel in March, we took a forward-thinking posture. I am proud to say that we worked constantly and side by side with public health officials to ensure that our theatre and its operations were safe, smart, and compliant with the guidance related to COVID-19, and that we were not sitting out when we could be in the game. We had come too far to lie down in our first year of operation.

So, we got creative, busy, and kept things simple.

The Vermilion Heritage Foundation and the Fischer Theatre became charter members of the National Independent Venues Association (NIVA), and actively helped develop policy and lobby for various pieces of legislation and programs of support to specifically ensure the survival of our industry. Those efforts led to advising the state of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity on the second round of Business Interruption Grant funding and various pieces of federal legislation which landed on the #SaveOurStagesAct.

We rode the waves of the various stages and tiers of operation in the Restore Illinois plan and developed a private rental program for groups when public events were not possible that hosted everything from movies to a wedding ceremony. When indoor events were not possible during the summer, we partnered with the City of Danville to host outdoor films in our very own Palace Park. We worked within the constraints of operating for the public indoors as well, creating concerts, live theatre, yoga classes, and film events for crowds of up to 50 that were enjoyed by our community in a time when they needed it most. We also found ways to provide live entertainment to folks via a WinterSounds program where we live streamed concerts from our stage to the homes of our friends and neighbors here in our community and far away.

In 2020 we created several new and unique opportunities for our patrons to support the theatre, increasing both the number of donors and dollars raised because of active fundraising. That includes a Date Night Raffle, rebooting the Friends of the Fischer program, and many other efforts ranging from online auctions and use of our marquee.

We have spent a good amount of time this first month of 2021 crunching the numbers on our activities throughout 2020, and I feel proud of the data we have collected.

We increased our total number of Friends of the Fischer to 108 individual donors – and we have only scratched the surface. Contributions from this newly refined annual giving campaign total over $45,000 and there are still so many individuals and businesses in our community that we have yet to approach to solicit and I am anxious to continue to meet. All in, including our FOTF program and all other donations and grants, we raised over $130,000 in contributed income in 2020!

Our volunteers are a necessary component of everything we do here and will continue to be an important piece of our growth. We have over 100 community volunteers that have dedicated their time and talents for the good of our mission. These dedicated individuals have logged over 3,700 hours of service to our community through the Fischer Theatre. When you consider that the value of a volunteer’s hour is calculated at being worth up to $27.20 according to Independent Sector, the overwhelming volunteerism we have received can be valued at over $100,000.00 in service.

Looking forward to 2021, the future is bright! I believe our hard work over this first year of operation has positioned the Fischer Theatre to catapult itself out of the pandemic once the opportunity arises when it has shuttered many of our peers in our industry. We continue to develop our plans to continue the restoration of the theatre with the intention of increasing the quality, variety, accessibility, and size of our operations. We have a plan and have sourced the funding to replace the main entrance doors, allowing for a dramatic increase in efficiency and accessibility. We are also focused on the many other capital improvements that will be needed to increase the variety and quality of productions and thereby bolster our financial stability for years to come.

The Fischer Theatre has so much opportunity, and its potential to continue to make a meaningful and lasting impact in our community is what guides everything we do. It is a historical landmark and a treasure that I have every intention of nurturing, growing, and continuing to put to use. We have much to look forward to.

The lady waits no longer…

Sincerely,

Jason Rome

Executive Director

Vermilion Heritage Foundation | The Historic Fischer Theatre

Back by popular demand: Rent the Marquee!!

We took a break from the program to focus on our reopening strategy and efforts, and to mold the program into something that is workable long-term. You all love it so much we had to find a way to make it work for our community!

Here’s the Deal:

-For $100 you get a message on 1 side of the marquee for a day

-For $150 you get a message on both sides of the marquee for a day

-For $300 you get a message on one side of the marquee for an entire week

-For $500 you get a message on both sides of the marquee for an entire week

Two minor changes to the program:

***Your message may not be the only thing on the marquee. We will often market our own events simultaneously. We can guarantee that you will get at least three lines of the marquee to yourself.***

***Marquee messages will no longer be up by 8 AM each day, but will be up before noon.***

Help us spread positivity and support The Fischer simultaneously by renting the marquee! Dates are based on availability and messages are subject to approval by the Fischer staff.

We are booking dates from April 1st – December 31st of 2021! Book your date now.

Contact Ashton Greer: ashton@fischertheatre.com

The Fischer Theatre opened its doors for the very first time on November 5, 1884. The Grand Opening feature was the Emma Abbott Grand English Opera Company presenting “King for a Day.”

It was the first opera company formed by a woman in the United States.

TOUR THE FISCHER

3D Virtual Tour courtesy of Mary Surprenant

PHOTO GALLERY

19291929

CALL US

(217) 213-6162

FIND US

158 North Vermilion
Danville, IL 61832

EMAIL US

fischer@fischertheatre.com

SEND US

P.O. BOX 926

Danville, IL 61834

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Jason Rome

Executive Director