Celebrating The National’s 186th year: A letter from our Executive Director

Dear Friends,

Greetings from The National! As we approach the end of our 186th year on August 31st, we wanted to share some of our favorite moments from this unique time in our history with you.

Despite the extraordinary challenges theatres have faced during the pandemic, we continue to be buoyed by the enthusiasm and support of our patrons, donors, and artists. This past year has been among the most productive in our organization’s history. Our community and educational programs have never been stronger, our fundraising results have never been more promising, and our historic theatre has never looked better.

In May, the nonprofit that operates The National officially adopted a new moniker: The National Theatre Foundation, a shift we believe better expresses our mission to provide world-class community and educational programming, preserve our beautiful historic theatre, and oversee the operations of The National’s main stage, which occupies a distinctly important place in Washington’s cultural landscape.

This time last year, we had never produced a virtual program or video. Twelve months later, we’ve produced nearly 50 free virtual educational events and videos, a number of which are available on demand. In the face of unprecedented challenges, we were able to pivot our three signature community programs (Saturday Morning Live! At The National, Community Stage Connections, and Teens Behind the Scenes) to virtual formats and share them with new and diverse audiences.

Other significant accomplishments include the launch of a new website and new social media channels (Facebook and Instagram), continued work to advance the accessibility of our historical archives, and, with thanks to our partners at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Events DC, the undertaking of our first-ever Master Facility Plan Project, which we anticipate will be completed in September.

The National Theatre Foundation accomplishes a lot with a small team of professionals. This year, we were proud to welcome two new members to our team. First off is Emily Schmid, who joined us part-time last September as Program and Office Administrator and will be full-time starting later this month. And second is Jamie Boller, who started as our Development Coordinator in March. Our success this year comes thanks in no small measure to their many contributions.

On the fundraising front, the Foundation most recently completed a springtime fundraising initiative that asked donors to “Help Put a Spring in Our Step!” The effort encompassed the last week of April and had a goal of bringing in $15,000 from 150+ donors. In the end, we exceeded our dollar goal by 53% and our donor goal by 15%, raising more than $23,000 from 172 individuals, the vast majority of whom were new donors to the Foundation. This was our third online fundraiser of the year, coming on the heels of a similarly successful efforts in October and December, and helped bring our donor family above 500, a significant milestone for us representing a nearly 400% year-on-year increase in supporters.

Such remarkable progress is only possible with the support of our Friends of The National Theatre, National Theatre Circle members, and, of course, our incredible artistic and community partners. To all who attended on of our free programs, made a gift, or otherwise supported our efforts over the past year, thank you. Your support imbues us with gratitude and hope for brighter days ahead.

As a small nonprofit, we rely on dear friends like you to help us bring great theatre and community programs to Greater Washington. Before our fiscal ends on August 31st, we invite you to make a year-end contribution to support our ongoing educational programming and provide critical resources to ensure our ability to reopen safely later this fall. Every gift makes a difference and gets us one step closer to bringing this challenging year to a successful close.

Please know how grateful we are to have you as part of our National family. We look forward to welcoming you back later this fall. For now, please continue to take care of yourselves and one another.

David J. Kitto (he/him)
Executive Director