A Treasure for the Community
Victoria Theatre Association (VTA), located in downtown Dayton, Ohio, operates and maintains three vital arts facilities for the benefit of the community: the historic Victoria Theatre, the state-of-the-art Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center, and the Metropolitan Arts Center, home to The Loft Theatre. The theaters host more than 300 performances each year and are essential to VTA’s vision to be the leading artistic and economic driver for Dayton and the Miami Valley Region.
VTA’s three arts facilities feature a total of over 180 years of history, and their preservation is vital. To determine its needs and opportunities, VTA conducted a study and found that an additional $20 million was needed for endowment—totaling a $30 million endowment—to protect and preserve the facilities for the future.
“We feel a tremendous responsibility to our community to act as responsible stewards of our buildings and so we embarked on a thorough research project into future needs for capital upgrades and expanded programming to meet not only the requirements of our theatres but also our growing and changing population,” said Ken Neufeld, President and CEO of VTA. “Once we settled on the financial need, we needed a strategy for meeting that need – and so embarked on a feasibility study with Benefactor Group.”
Testing for Endowment
Diana Newman, Executive Vice President, led the Benefactor Group team in conducting a Feasibility Study for an Endowment Campaign. This study was performed to assess VTA’s capacity to secure $20 million to expand the endowment and ensure the future of Dayton’s well-loved facilities.
Benefactor Group prepared a preliminary case for support, conducted interviews, and found significant interest in supporting the long-term viability of Dayton’s highly prized arts facilities.
“People love the VTA in Dayton. They respect the leadership and they feel like they’re owners of it,” said Newman. “I don’t know how that’s been achieved but it’s fabulous to witness.”
Ensuring the Future
VTA determined to move forward with an endowment campaign, including some opportunities for donations to help with VTA’s current needs over the next few years.
Benefactor Group closely worked with VTA throughout the campaign on three phases. Newman and the Benefactor Group team drafted a case for support, coached in stewardship, recognition, and naming opportunities, and worked with the campaign steering committee in developing customized approaches for major donors. Neufeld said about the partnership, “As a company, Benefactor Group listened to our plans, understood the strategy behind our plans, and were able to offer innovative and cost effective ideas for meeting our financial needs.” Newman added, “It’s been very exciting to work with VTA. They have been eager to hear suggestions and then to customize these suggestions to their own culture.”
VTA launched the public campaign in the fall of 2014. The total endowment at this time had reached $22 million. “As we prepared for the public phase of the campaign, our message needed to be reworked if a broader public audience was going to understand what we were trying to accomplish,” remembered Neufeld. “Diana very helpful in assisting with crafting the new message and making sure that our public launch was positively received by a wide variety of stakeholders.”