The Tahoe Arts Project hopes to raise at least $10,000 to bring back a program the nonprofit cut this school year.
It's the first time in TAP's 26-year history that the organization, which brings professional performing arts to El Dorado County schools, has scaled back the number of invited groups, Executive Director Peggy Thompson said.
While Thompson said she doesn't think TAP is in danger of disappearing from the community, funding needs to increase before they can add another performing arts company to the schedule.
"It's too important for it to go away," Thompson said. "I don't think the community would let TAP fold. I see TAP continuing because the schools are not able to bring in these groups on their own."
The fiscal road started to get bumpy as revenue from the nonprofit's large annual fundraisers dwindled. TAP canceled the traditional Evening with the Academy Awards event several years ago because of rising costs and shrinking profit. The Oscar party would generate up to $25,000 at its peak in the 1990s, but by 2012 that number had fallen to $2,000, Thompson said.
"Everything was different. The economy was different, maybe people supported the movies more before. Our community gets hit up so often for fundraising," she said.
TAP launched the No-Show Oscar party last year to help fill the funding gap. The non-event, which encourages people to donate money they would otherwise have spent during the evening, raised $2,000 in 2012.
TAP also cancelled its 10-year-running Festival of Fine Arts last year partly because of construction at South Tahoe Middle School and also because of a proliferation of craft fairs in the South Shore.
Like the Oscar party, the festival generated less money every year. In its heyday, the festival brought in $40,000 over the course of two or three days. A tougher economy and fewer artists in 2011 caused that profit to shrink to $8,000.
TAP's main source of income still comes from individual donations, which also dropped off after the recession, and government grants, which have become more competitive as California struggles with its own economic woes.
The nonprofit shifted gears recently from the large annual fundraisers to smaller events like the Safari Rose Sunset Wine Cruise, the Music on the Beach series and the Holiday Festival.
For Sierra House Elementary School Principal Ryan Galles, TAP brings more than just performing arts to the classroom. There's an international cultural component as well.
And the students love it, he said. Two years after a singing group performed at Sierra House, Galles' son is still searching for the band's songs on the radio.
"We always appreciate all the artists who come through. They're from such diverse backgrounds, and, being in a mountain town, we wouldn't get to experience all these performances. It brings the world to Tahoe," Galles said.
For more information on the events and donations, check out the TAP website at www.tahoeartsproject.org.