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In/Visible Theatre Earns Nonprofit Status, Ready to Scale Up Operation in the High Country

By Jessica Isaacs

In/Visible Theatre, a local arts organization in, for and inspired by the Boone community, recently earned its 501c3 nonprofit status, a designation that will help expand its reach and further its mission here in the High Country.

The organization applied with the IRS and awarded nonprofit status in late December 2016, just in time to align with its goals for ramping up its operations in the new year.

“We’ll be producing more frequently, adding programs, and, therefore, we needed to scale up our fundraising and our infrastructure,” said In/Visible Theatre’s full-time artistic producer Karen Sabo. “The IRS has an ‘EZ’ version of the 501c3 nonprofit applications for organizations like ours that are starting out with a relatively low budget, and we got approved within two weeks.

A scene from In/Visible Theatre's show "Mauzy," which was performed as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival in July 2016.
A scene from In/Visible Theatre’s show “Mauzy,” which was performed as part of An Appalachian Summer Festival in July 2016.

“This was also the right time for us to apply because the government was having a sale. The fee to apply for the 501c3 EZ application was lowered by $125, and we use donors’ dollars wisely. My mother raised me to never pay full price, and when I can apply that to government fees, she’s even prouder.”

The nonprofit designation will strengthen the organization’s role in the community and allow it to reach for bigger goals in the process of working toward its mission, which reads:

“In/Visible Theatre gives voice to unheard voices through producing innovative work that challenges audiences to see, hear and experience the world in new ways. Through education, social engagement and innovative artistic practices, we encourage participants to try on new perspectives that access deeper truths and create a more engaged, empathetic, introspective populace.”

“We’re excited about our new, IRS-approved ability to scale up, because we’re able to pursue this mission more vigorously. We’re expanding our eeducation program (our upcoming winter workshops are just the beginning), and producing innovative work such as our upcoming play, ‘The Christians,’ which we hope to produce in churches themselves, and which asks some valuable questions about how church families are affected by their leaders’ evolving religious and philosophical views,” said Sabo. “We’ll be able to do more work to encourage people to explore new ideas, and entertain perspectives from other points of view. That’s how we use theatre to make the world a better place, and we’re excited to be able to do more of it.”

Nonprofit status also creates an incentive for friends in the community to invest in the organization’s work.

“In/Visible has so many great supporters who have invested in In/Visible Theatre even without getting a tax break; but, now, that we can offer our In/Visible Friends a tax deduction for donating, we’re getting ready to approach people who want to forever be recognized as one of our financial founders, and who can give larger gifts that will help us achieve some of our infrastructure needs,” Sabo said. “Overhead isn’t a very ‘sexy’ thing to support, but without rent for office space, the electric bill and salaries, we can’t change lives through the arts.

“Also, having a 501C3 opens doors in terms of electronic fundraising, as well, and enables us to put donation buttons on our Facebook page, on the YouTube channel we’d like to start and will change our crowdfunding possibilities for the studio/office space we need. Hooray for tax deductions! We know that our great local nonprofits that house and feed people are a crucial part of the safety net, but we’re looking to feed people’s spirits. That’s a crucial part of living a healthy life, too.”

For the works that it produces, the new designation means bigger, better, brighter goals for In/Visible Theatre.

“It means more projects that will reach more people. It means being better able to fulfill our mission, and to bring the power of theatre to more people,” said Sabo. “It means a greater impact in terms of using art to build bridges between different groups, and using theatre to make healthier and happier individuals and a strong community.”

For more information, check out invisibletheatrenc.org or follow the group on Facebook.