Gemini 23°

Question No. 1: Why do you feel that realtors in Provincetown owe a special debt of gratitutde’s to non-profits and what simple things would you say to a room full of them or send them in an email which might inspire them to give to your non-profit.

Well I’m glad you asked. I think that the real estate agencies in Provincetown owe a special debt to non-profits for a number of reasons. Whereas there is a hotel tax in Provincetown whereby the town makes a percentage on every room booked in hotels and inns, money which goes to to town to be doled out, by the Visitors Service Bureau (VSB) to all kinds of non-profits including our great Afterglow Festival. No money is raised in taxes from real estate agencies renting houses to visitors however. Never mind the fact that houses are sold, at increasingly soaring rates, to second-home owners who rent their places in the aforementioned fashion or let them sit empty, sometimes for all but just a few weeks a year.

Gentrification is rampant in Provincetown. The fact that nobody in the service industry can afford to live in in town any more is one whole conversation in itself; but Ptown is very quickly becoming a coastal town for the super-rich, to such a degree, that the real-estate agencies are the recipients of sales commisions on a scale that we’ve never seen before in town. And so what goes along with that? in the performance world it means that all the (two?) performance venues in town can put on shows by Patti Lupone and Bernadette Peters at big ticket prices, all season long. There is no such thing as new or emerging performance scene in Provincetown which is sad and ironic because Provincetown is the undisputed birth place of the modern American stage.

I would say to a realtor something like:

Dear Realtor,

I am reaching out to you as not just a business in town, but as a real estate agency, which in this point in Provincetown’s evolution, one might imagine, is a good thing to be!

With the rising (soaring?) property prices, the increased attraction of the super wealthy to town, buffered by plans to develop a new yacht-friendly wharf and musings on new luxury hotels and the like, Provincetown has changed, and no more so from our perspective as a non-profit in the performing arts.

Already, for years now, we have seen a shift toward big-ticket prices for shows by Broadway stars, in season. Long gone, now, are the days when the emerging artist could show up in town and secure themself a stage—we’ve all but lost what might be called a Provincetown performance scene, in the one place where that legacy should never be lost.

Modern American theater began in Provincetown one-hundred years ago with playwrights Eugene O’Neill and Susan Glaspell and the town’s eponymous Players.

But beyond that, for decades after, playwrights and performers who felt marginalized came to Provincetown—from Tennessee Williams and Edward Albee to performers like Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Paul Lynde, Jim Baily, Lynne Carter, Andy Warhop and his Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Lily Tomlin, Divine and on and on.

Unlike the Fine Arts tradition of Provincetown, the town’s progressive professional theatrical and performance heritage was these last years in danger of being lost completely—this is why we founded the Afterglow Festival in 2011. Now in its seventh year, Afterglow has premiered, produced and developed solo plays that have moved off-Broadway and performance art pieces, alternative comedy, neo-cabaret, interpretive dance, electronica and hip-hop poetry, high drag performance….the genres are endless…which have gone on to headline other festivals and win awards world-wide.

Afterglow receives a small VSB grant, moneys which are made from taxing hotels and guests. As you know, no money flows toward our or any non-profit from the rentals of summer, monthly or weekly homes. And in regard to house sales, as prices go up and up, and these houses are either rented to people who don’t make a home here or sit empty for second-home owners to visit them a few weeks a year, the population of Provincetown has become nameless and not anyone we would ever be able to reach out to for help.

So many people, especially those who work in the service industry, have left town and/or are scrambling to afford to be here on the earnings they make in the span of three months. It used to be that this segment of the permanent population felt less strapped and more forthcoming with small donations to our non-profit—but we’ve seen that change as well.

It occured to me that one segment of the commercial population—the real estate agencies—was one from which we’ve never recevied a sponsorship or a donation. And yet, one imagines, it is likely the most of businesses in town. And again, though tourists who stay in hotels contribute, via the VSB, to grant money we might receive, this isn’t true of the renting of houses to tourists. I know people think a tax on rentals should be enacted, but I have no opinion on that. I only know that when I sat down to meditate on which sector did I feel might have the means and, hopefully, the kind and generous motivation to give to our non profit Afterglow, the real-estate agencies shot to mind.

We would love if your agency would sponsor this year’s Afterglow Festival with a sponsorship starting at $1K. We also offer a Missionary Sponsorship of $500.