To our MSA Family,
We are writing to let you know we are thinking about you. For 20 years, our Community has come together through the joy of performing arts instruction. It has been a home away from home for so many, a safe haven where those with a passion for performance could thrive, and we are so grateful.
In recent weeks, we have seen the world we know rapidly transform and change many of the routines and comforts of normalcy we have come to rely on. Our children have been separated from their schools, their extracurricular activities, their friends and even their families. As parents and educators, we are acutely aware of the many ways these alterations to our daily lives have affected our children, physically, emotionally and socially.
During this time of uncertainty and concern, we hope that the community we have built together here at MSA can still provide joyful connections through innovative arts training. Our faculty and staff have moved mountains at unbelievable speeds to continue to provide arts education and inspiration to our students. We are incredibly grateful and in awe of the dedicated professionals throughout our organization who have gone so far above and beyond expectations to continue to share their love and support for their students. Thank you, MSA faculty and staff for the fortitude, enthusiasm and commitment you have displayed; you are truly an example of the type of global citizen we have devoted ourselves to inspire.
In our Studio division, faculty recorded and uploaded over 150 curriculum and choreography videos and music as resources for students over the first few days of our closure. Our music department transitioned to online coachings to continue private lessons shortly after. Faculty created MSA Instagram accounts to stay connected with students. Through social media, we have been able to host live open classes for all levels and departments, provide daily tips, and send words of encouragement to our entire arts community. We have invited our students to engage family members in social media challenges to help provide inspiration and activities for our time spent at home. Our next phase of virtual learning involves a full schedule for all regular classes and lessons via Zoom during normal days and times to provide routine and continual education to our community. Our pre-professional companies, MYB, iMpulse, MYTE and iMprov, have continued to stay connected and focused through the creativity and leadership of their artistic directors through live virtual classes and email. We are also offering families the opportunity to receive 20% off youth dance/theater tuition payments this month to help those who need to cut expenses during this time but wish to continue with classes online knowing the joy MSA will bring to their children.
In our Academy division, students are continuing to receive an exceptional arts and academic education. Our partnership with Laurel Springs School, our online curriculum provider, coupled with the professionalism and tenacity of the Academy faculty and staff, have allowed students to transition to an entirely online experience in a matter of days. Academy students have been participating in daily dance, music and theatre classes for almost two weeks now, and they continue to build connections with their Academy peers and teachers. They have demonstrated the grit and resilience they have been taught, which will help them finish out their school year successfully.
MSA’s JOY FUND
We are very fortunate to be positioned as we are with the resources we have devoted and the generosity of a select few to allow us to continue as we have to this point. We have made paying our faculty and staff a highest priority and avoided laying off even a single person during this difficult time. As a relatively small, non-profit organization, our resources are limited, and we simply cannot sustain current spending levels without new sources of substantial financial support.
Rest assured we are doing our part. The Board is meeting weekly and providing ongoing operational support and guidance commensurate with the unprecedented circumstances. We are in discussions with our landlord, negotiating with vendors, and cutting expenses; we are volunteering tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of “in-kind” donated professional services, pursuing SBA emergency disaster funding, investigating and pursuing new sources of foundation funding, and generally doing all we can to be able to afford to continue providing students the highest quality offerings under these previously unimaginable circumstances.
With many of our MSA families facing financial hardships and difficult decisions of your own, MSA, like so many of you, is now forced to do what we can with less. While hoping to continue to employ approximately 80 artists/faculty/staff and educating our hundreds of students without any diminution or attrition, we are currently facing a projected budgetary shortfall of upwards of $375,000 over the next several months of our fiscal year as we struggle to cover essential expenses such as rent, salaries, events and operational costs.
With summer programs potentially in jeopardy and future financial realities not yet calculable, our expectation at this point is that our financial situation is likely to get worse before it gets better. We appreciate that not everyone is in a position to help at this time, but for those who are and who might be considering options as to how you might be able to do something meaningful to give back to your community, we hope you will consider the added joy your dollars will mean to our own MSA community.
As we profess to continue doing our part to provide you with quality performing arts-related programming, and to identify new and creative ways to bridge the current funding gap, we are calling on our community’s support for MSA’s new JOY FUND to help meet our commitment to keep our faculty and staff fully employed and so that we can continue to offer our programming to those in our community not otherwise able to afford to do so on their own during this difficult time. Unless donor-restricted for another specific purpose, absolutely 100% of the funds raised through this campaign will be committed to these two efforts.
To lead our fundraising initiative, The DiMaggio Family Fund and an Anonymous Donor have come together to propose a matching gift challenge of $50,000! These generous benefactors have agreed to match every dollar donated up to the first $50,000. During this time of uncertainty, we urge you to please spread the word about MSA’s new JOY FUND and help in any way you can.
Won’t you join us in meeting the challenge and #KeepingTheJoy!
Thank you for being a Community we are proud to call our own.