Editorial — Presentation illustrates Freeman Stage’s growth

Sussex County Council received its annual presentation from the powers that be at The Freeman Stage at Bayside last week — and, once again, we are reminded of just how far this effort has come over the years.

“If you can believe it, this is our 10th year,” said Patti Grimes, executive director of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation. “We want to thank Sussex County for being such a great partner and to let you know that what started as a vision in an arts desert in 2008 has turned into a thriving arts area.”

Grimes shared some intriguing numbers with the Council, as well. She said that 13,800 patrons visited the Stage in its first year, while 2016 saw 62,381 visit. She also offered that ticket purchases have been made from 41 states, bringing more money into the local economy by being a destination draw, and that more than $13 million has been contributed back to the community since 2008. Another interesting figure to consider is the volunteerism involved — Grimes said that the stage has more than 222 volunteers, who she said have contributed to the equivalency of $725,000 over the years, using “the independent sector’s rate.”

She added that out of every dollar raised by the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, 80 cents goes into programming, 16 cents to raise additional funds and only 4 cents to management and administration. That is charitable efficiency that is nearly unheard of for an operation as big as this.

The Stage brings culture and entertainment — largely through volunteers and donors to this community, boosts the economy, introduces children to the arts and is growing by the year. Bravo.