Located in Austin, Minnesota
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To our Valued Patrons,                                                                                                                                                          Aug 31, 2020


I hope this letter finds  you and yours in good health and spirits. 2020 has been a real humdinger of a year so far and like most, Matchbox has been rolling with the punches. A lot has happened in the last 6 months and I wanted to take this time as the new President to update our  supporters. 


The end of our fiscal year was on June 30th and with that we had our annual meeting. We amended our Bylaws and Constitution with some good housekeeping things such as Executive Board term limits and allowing our Treasurer the option to not be a voting member.  Our Vice President Deidre Smith brings business knowledge from owning Discovery Learning Center, a love for acting, and an early education background. You may have seen Deidre and her daughter Diann in a number of Matchbox shows! Secretary Nikki Phillips brings her strong organizational skills, education background,  performing talents and Spanish fluency . She home schools her 4 boys and has directed and acted in many of our shows along with her family. Our new Treasurer Mickey Clark comes with a long history of finance and a passion for sustainable endeavors his family can be involved in.  I am so grateful for such a well rounded and supportive Executive Board. 


You may have seen me once or twice on stage having been in theater all my life. I have been involved with Matchbox for over 25 years and am so proud to have the opportunity to help keep the legacy alive. To be an arts organization that has not only survived but thrived in a small town is no small feat. The leadership, vision and passion of many before me leave big shoes to fill. With these trying times we have rallied to maintain our mission statement which is; to spark  imaginations by presenting professional quality children’s  theatre on a consistent basis. 


We definitely have exciting plans to keep moving forward in this COVID world.  However, this year, how we fulfill our mission will look a little different. As a Board we made the difficult choice to cancel our Season 46. While we are heartbroken we can’t present plays in the usual way we are taking innovative approaches to keep our participants and audiences engaged. 


Our employee Angela Donovan and the Education committee are working hard on plans to keep our kids safe while still having fun. This summer went well and judging by the smiles on the kids’ faces, I say they knocked it out of the park! Auditioning, dancing, sword fighting and sewing were just a few of the classes offered.  Board and community members alike volunteered their skills and time to teach. We are hoping to continue classes throughout the year and to offer theatre camps during school breaks. The Historic Hormel Home was a gracious host for our camp performances and we can hardly wait to collaborate with them on more projects! Keep an eye out for some fun performances. Board member Heidi Clark and her family kicked off weekly MCT Bedtime Stories on the lawn of Discovery  Learning Center with “Llama Llama Red Pajama”  and  they have also performed it for three preschools and the general public. MCT was able to work within COVID safe distancing protocol for actors by presenting with family groups. Audiences were directed to maintain social distancing too. Val Johnson, one of the original creators of MCT Bedtime Stories, performed a swamp rendition of The Gingerbread Man story with her son and grandchildren. Thank you to everyone involved for sharing your talents and making it a success! . As winter comes and we aren’t able to perform outside we are looking at technology  and other partners to enable us to reach our audiences. 


We are working with the Hormel Nature Center to be able to do the 37th Annual Halloween Warm Up this October. As it is already an outdoor event, we are making just a few changes such as smaller group sizes, adding extra time slots, and unfortunately no cider and cookies will be served. We will add some great new skits that will be sure to make up for no cookies. Be sure to get your tickets early as I have a feeling they will go quickly! 


Since we will lose a large part of our annual revenue without ticket sales for school and public performances we started looking for ways to supplement what we can’t get from grants. When Bridget Halverson reached out saying she needed a new place for her dance studio, I knew that we were just the place for her. We are so excited to have her in our building and can’t wait to see what fun new things come from having another creative entity in our space. She will be upstairs and will continue to offer a great variety of classes. Arts collaborations like this are absolutely a win-win for all involved. This is one more way that MCT is working on being resilient despite COVID challenges. 


None of this is possible without our village of supporters. We cannot thank the community enough for all of the support. From buying masks, getting chalk drawings from Katie Hunerdosse and just generally giving, you have allowed us to maintain our operating costs. A huge shout out to Gina Grundemeir from Pay It Forward, Taco John’s and Ace Hardware for helping us to upgrade our building to make it cleaner and safer.


As we look to the future, while not much is clear I can say with certainty that Matchbox’s future is bright! We will continue to go with the flow and make choices as needed to be able to create while keeping everyone safe. 


Best wishes,

Jen Wiebrand

President of the MCT Board

As a non profit organization we depend on the generosity of our community! Please consider a donation to help keep the arts alive in Austin.