The Jewish Theatre of Bloomington launched a fundraising campaign Monday to hire a new artistic director after Audrey Heller, a JTB co-founder who works as the full-time unpaid artistic director, retires sometime in the next few years.
The Audrey Heller Jewish Theatre of Bloomington Fund aims to honor Heller’s 16 years at JTB and support the salary of her successor, according to a press release from JTB.
“She basically has a full-time job as the producing artistic director, but has been doing it for free,” JTB Managing Director Cassie Hakken said Wednesday. “It’s going to be impossible for us to replace, both because Audrey has been fantastic in this position and because we don't expect anyone else to do a full-time job for free.”
An anonymous donor will match all donations up to $100,000, according to the press release. Hakken said the donation shows JTB means a lot to people, especially because it is the only Jewish theater in Indiana.
“JTB is the only Jewish theater in Indiana and is definitely a very unique voice in the Bloomington theater scene so we have a lot of supporters that want to see the continuation of this company,” Hakken said.
While JTB focuses on plays with Jewish themes or written by Jewish playwrights, JTB Treasurer Deb Allmayer said JTB puts on productions for all demographics. Allmayer said JTB has explored topics such as gun violence, the Holocaust, Alzheimer’s Disease, religion, bigotry and more.
“Our mission is to reflect on Jewish themes and experiences, but really touch on the universality of these issues on the human condition,” Allmayer said. “We want to provide both thought provoking and entertaining theater to a very diverse audience.”
Allmayer said her role as treasurer, although busy, is especially enjoyable right now because some people send letters of encouragement and appreciation alongside their donations. Allmayer encouraged supporters to donate now and take advantage of the $100,000 matching offer.
“If people want to see us continue, this is just a great opportunity to not only make a significant donation, but also see it matched up to $100,000 and really help ensure our continuation,” Allmayer said.