The president of Pickerington's lone community theater hopes to find an underwriter, which could bolster the organization's stability and enable it to put on more diverse productions.

The president of Pickerington's lone community theater hopes to find an underwriter, which could bolster the organization's stability and enable it to put on more diverse productions.

Since its establishment in 2006, the nonprofit Pickerington Community Theatre has staged theater productions at different locations throughout the community while attempting to provide entertainment to area residents and give adults, teens and children opportunities to participate in the performing arts.

Over the years, those objectives have been strained because of a lack of funding, in general, and more specifically a steady revenue source to finance necessities such as facility rental, production licensing fees and scripts for cast members.

Now, the PCT is hoping to land an underwriter or sponsor, which could help keep it viable.

"We really need one or two businesses to step up and write a check to underwrite us for an entire year," said Chris Gallaugher, PCT president.

Currently, the PCT is funded by members from throughout the community who pay an annual individual membership fee of $10, or $15 for a family membership.

It also receives support from Fairfield Federal Savings and Loan Bank, and it uses admission fees to its productions to help cover costs.

A large portion of its funding, Gallaugher said, goes toward facility rental.

Because the PCT doesn't own a facility to serve as a home base, it has had to rent space from organizations such as Pickerington Christian Church and the Pickerington Local School District to hold auditions and rehearsals, as well as to stage plays.

Gallaugher said he greatly appreciates organizations which have allowed the use of their facilities, often at relatively low prices, because the PCT wouldn't be able to function without them.

Still, he noted, there are rental costs and, in the case of the school district, the PCT must pay a custodian's salary of $27 per hour to have someone on hand any time the group uses space at Heritage Elementary School.

"We're very fortunate to have these venues to use, but ultimately our goal is to have a building of our own," he said.

"Either way, we're going to have to have some sort of grant or sponsor.

"When you're looking to support the entire season, that becomes a little more challenging."

In addition to rental costs, Gallaugher said, the PCT must pay for materials to build sets, and for things such as scripts, music rights and licensing fees for shows it produces.

Those fees can range from $1,000 to $1,500 for smaller plays, he said, and $2,000 to $4,000 for shows such as Willy Wonka, which the PCT just wrapped last weekend.

Although the smaller shows don't cost as much to produce, they also don't allow for as many community members to participate, he said, and they typically don't draw as many paying customers.

"You've got to pay for the intellectual property," Gallaugher said. "We're not here to make a profit. We're here to provide opportunities."

Gallaugher said it's difficult to pin a specific dollar figure to the PCT's needs, but he said a $5,000 to $10,000 annual grant or sponsorship would go a long way toward moving the organization forward.

Such a pledge likely could result in naming rights to events, or other exposure opportunities, he said, as is the case with Fairfield Federal, which receives billing in PCT programs, with signs in lobbies during performances and on the organization's website,

Beyond that, Gallaugher said, a sponsorship could play a vital role in maintaining or growing the community's cultural arts.

"Nobody's saying this is the same as making a donation to help cure cancer," he said, "but it's fascinating that in theater you get people from so many different walks of life.

"I think it's just like any other part of the arts. You want to provide opportunities for people from the community and do fun things.

"We have art galleries for paintings and we have music festivals," Gallaugher said.

"Community theater does allow for the community to come together and have a shared experience. Unfortunately today, we just don't have as much of that as we used to."

Gallaugher noted that those wishing to learn more about the PCT can find information on its website, and prospective sponsors or organization members also can learn more during the PCT's annual picnic, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 11 at Pickerington Christian Church, 575 Diley Road.

"We will re-elect board members and talk about next season," Gallaugher said of the event.

"People can bring a side dish and beverages and we'll provide the main dish.

"If people are interested in the theater and learning more about us, that's a perfect time to do it."