From Carl Weintraub over at the scrumptious Firefly Bistro in South Pasadena.

Many of you may know that when I’m not greeting you here at Firefly, I’m telling stories all over Southern California. I founded We Tell Stories 28 years ago and for the first time in its history, it’s on the brink of collapse. I hope you won’t mind my imposing upon you to read the letter I’ve written below. I’m hoping you’ll be able to help. You can find out all about WTS by checking out the website:
Dear Friends,

Over the past 28 years, We Tell Stories has performed nearly 16,000 shows and over 26,000 student workshops to close to 5,000,000 children, their families and their teachers. We Tell Stories is a vanguard in the field of arts education and theatre for young audiences. According to Lynne Heffley of the Los Angeles Times, We Tell Stories “is one of Southern California’s oldest and most respected educational children’s theater companies.”

Suddenly, We Tell Stories’ existence is threatened, and we desperately need your help. Give us $10 and save We Tell Stories.

Here’s the problem. For the past four years, we have had a contract for services with the Los Angeles Unified School District that has enabled us to pay over 9,000 visits to classrooms and auditoriums throughout Los Angeles. It has also enabled us to transition ourselves from the band of traveling players we have always been into a bonefide arts organization. As a result, our overhead has increased by approximately $150,000 a year. Suddenly, due to the state budgetary crisis, this contract has been rescinded.

We have programs in the works for 2010 that we believe will generate that overhead again, but, right now, we need to get through this year, and we need $150,000 to do it.

We have never sold tickets to our performances. For 28 years, we have prided ourselves on the fact that, unlike most non-profits, we have existed primarily on contracted services like that with LAUSD; approximately 80% earned and 20% contributed by government, corporate, and foundation entities. Due to our $150,000 shortfall, those contributions will not be nearly enough to sustain us through the year.

So for the first time in our history, we are reaching out to individuals. Every friend, every friend of a friend, every person who has ever had a warm spot in his or her heart for a child or an artist needs to log on right now and give us $10.

Then, if you feel comfortable doing so, forward this email to your friends. If 15,000 people give $10 each, we will make our goal. If some of you can give $20, $50, or $100, it won’t take as many of you. But we need it by February 15th. If we can raise this money by the middle of February, we will be able to continue many of our programs. If we cannot, many of these programs will cease.

Please, log on now and donate what you can. Our artists and kids all over Southern California will be eternally grateful.

Carl Weintraub
Founder of We Tell Stories !