Tax documents filed by 40-year-old community theater Vive Les Arts show consistent financial losses in a reporting period spanning several years.
Resignations Friday created vacancies in five of nine executive board positions of the Killeen theater at 3401 S. W.S. Young Drive. They broke news to the community in an email, citing disagreement with the chairwoman, a steady decline in donations and attendance over multiple years, and an inability to reduce expenses and increase revenue.
This year’s financial records were not available, but recent tax documents provide a glimpse of the challenges.
From Sept. 1, 2011, to Aug. 31, 2012, VLA reported $457,541 in total revenue and $446,482 in total expenses — barely breaking even at $11,059, in what was essentially profit.
The following reporting year from Sept. 1, 2012, to Aug. 31, 2013, a $101,917 loss was posted because it made $327,490 but had $429,407 in expenses. The public support section of the most recent tax form shows gifts, grants, and contributions declined from $209,606 in 2010 to $91,337 in 2014, while gross receipts from admissions or merchandise peaked at $214,409 in 2011.
Financial struggles continued through at least 2015, and likely never recovered, tax records and the board letter indicate.
No warning was given to the community prior to the announcement earlier this month the performing arts center intends to close.
“The executive committee met twice in June to review the finances and options. Seven of nine members believed that the Theatre could not commit to a new season because of the financial situation and voted that it should close gracefully at the end of the current season,” according to the email sent to media outlets on Friday.
The recommendation was presented to the full board July 5, and no alternative plans or proposals were presented, it said. The full board voted to accept the executive committee’s recommendation and to proceed to close Aug. 31.
The seven who signed the letter of resignation were: Vice Chairman Nancy Hennigan, Vice Chairman Diane Connell, Advisory Committee Chairman Cyd West, Treasurer Scott Shine, Treasurer Hilary Shine, Past Chairman John Gilmore and Past Chairman Leslie Gilmore.
Chairwoman Summer Heidtbrink, who was part of the executive committee that made the initial recommendation, was blasted for behavior that board members said violates the VLA board’s bylaws and her role of chairwoman.
“We can no longer trust her leadership, and will not support her defiance of the board’s direction,” board members said.
Heidtbrink in a Thursday Herald article said she was fighting to keep the performing arts center open, and asked the public not to harbor “ill will towards the board members that voted to close the theater.” Neither the vote count for the executive committee nor the full board were released.
The resignation letter did not include the names of Heidtbrink or her husband Bary Heidtbrink, also a board member, and also did not include George and Stacie Dishon, Jennifer Sullivan, or Bill Kozlik, the remaining members.
The Heidtbrinks could not be reached for comment on the board’s letter.
At least one-third of the board must be in office to meet the quorum requirement to vote, and no action can be approved without at least a majority of the directors needed for a quorum.
The bylaws say the remaining board seats shall, in the event of a vacancy, be filled “by the affirmative vote of a majority of the remaining directors, even if it is less than a quorum” of the board, and even if just one director remains. If someone fills a position, he or she would only serve the remainder of an unexpired term.
VLA is a 501c3 nonprofit organization. No earnings can go to a private shareholder, and bylaws say board members are prohibited from taking a salary.
If VLA chooses to dissolve as a 501c3, the IRS must be notified, according to the IRS website.
The only mention of dissolution is for memberships, in the second article of the bylaws, when “membership terminates on the dissolution of the Societe or the death of a member.”
VLA was listed in a master file of exempt organizations Saturday among 1.6 million in the country; the document was last updated July 11.
Hilary Shine, the organization’s former treasurer, is the city of Killeen’s executive director of public information. It is unclear what happens to the financial record books now that the group no longer has a treasurer.
Herald reporter Josh Sullivan contributed to this report.
Snapshot of Vive Les Arts finances
2011-12: $11,059 profit; $457,541 total revenue; $446,482 total expenses
2012-13: $101,917 loss; $327,490 total revenue; $429,407 total expenses
2013-14: $66,137 loss; $361,553 total revenue; $427,690 total expenses
2014-15: $56,167 loss; $301,558 total revenue; $357,755 total expenses
Source: IRS tax documents