Charleston Stage announced today that a group of long-time supporters have offered a matching grant for as much as $50,000. A matching grant challenged other donors to step up with their own money. Each dollar raised between now and the end of the month will be matched for a total of as much as $100,000.

Update: The grant comes from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and Fred Pittman. I’m trying to figure out now if this grant has anything to do with the emergency request made of the Donnelley on behalf of Charleston Stage, the CSO, and the CBT. As of Friday, I thought that request had been turned down. More on that when I found out more.

Update No. 2: This matching grant from the Donnelley Foundation was made in June. Its aim is to supplement Charleston Stage’s general operating budget. It was requested before the current crisis facing Charleston’s Big Three and therefore has nothing to do with the pending grant request by the Coastal Community Foundation for as much as $250,000. “This is part of the normal cycle of things,” says John O. Sands, the regional spokesperson for the Donnelley Foundation.

Charleston Stage, along with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Charleston Ballet Theatre have been facing what some say is the worst fund-raising season they have ever faced. The theater has said that it needs to raise $100,000 by the end of the month and the same amount again by the end of the season.

Julian Wiles, founder and director of Charleston Stage, the city’s largest theater company, said in a press release today that “with this extra wind in our sails, we plan to steer a course toward long-term sustainability.”

Wiles does not expound of “long-term sustainability” in the press release, but earlier this month the company downsized its staff. Three staffers were laid off and the rest of the company received a 6 percent pay-cut, including Wiles, who also took a nearly 20 percent deferment of salary for a year. The cuts, Wiles told City Paper, will save the company about $160,000 over the course of the year. The budget has been slashed by 30 percent, down from $1.6 million last year.

Wiles said that with the cuts, the company was the size it needed to be to weather what he calls “a perfect storm.” Last year, Charleston Stage had a staff of 15. By summer, it was 13. With this recent round of layoffs, only 10 remain, plus six paid actor-teachers who are the corps of the company. —John Stoehr

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