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Lack of funding could force Sad Cafe to close

Union Leader Correspondent

February 24. 2012 11:12PM

PLAISTOW - The Sad Caf has fallen on hard times and supporters fear that it could be forced to close its doors if new funding sources aren't found soon.

'We're at a crucial crossroads. We do have some calls out now and it really depends upon what we're going to be able to receive in the next 30 days,' said Dick Gerrish, vice chairman of the Sad Caf's board of directors.

Money is quickly running out at Steppingstone Music Opportunities Inc., the nonprofit organization that operates the Sad Caf in Plaistow as a family-friendly music venue for young people in southeastern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts to keep them safe and away from drugs and alcohol.

State and local funding for the Sad Caf is drying up along with the grant money that was once available from charitable organizations.

'We have an all-volunteer board and we've been running on a shoestring for 15 years. We're down to the point where we're running on fumes,' Gerrish said. 'We're not saying we're closing, but if we don't get some influx of support in the next 30 days, we're going to have to give some dates of when we can't continue anymore.'

The organization planned a press conference Friday to make a plea for donations from individuals and businesses and to launch its corporate sponsorship drive to help with funding.

The Sad Caf's mission is to promote positive life choices for youth by giving them an opportunity to showcase their musical and artistic talent on stage in a substance-free environment. It's geared toward students in the Timberlane Regional and Sanborn Regional school districts, but youth in other communities have also benefitted.

'Our goal is to provide all performers with a first-rate performance opportunity and tap into their creative potential. Performing live encourages young people to develop key social and personal skills while having fun. It's not just talent that's brought to the surface; it's bringing out the 'real person' who takes the stage,' Walter Mailhot, president of the board of directors, said in a news release.

Approximately 400 bands and single artists representing nearly 2,000 youth musicians perform at the Sad Caf each year.

Gerrish said the organization operates with a $50,000 budget that must cover expenses such as utilities, oil, insurance and rent. The Sade Caf used to pay $3,600 a month to rent its building at 148 Plaistow Road (Route 125) but last July informed its landlord that it could only pay half, Gerrish said. The organization now pays $1,800 a month, but the building is up for lease and if a new tenant comes along the Sad Caf could be told to leave.

Most of its revenue is generated from admissions charged to those who watch the performances.

The group hoped to cut its expenses by signing a purchase and sales agreement on the former St. Frederick Parish Center in Kingston, but the deal to buy the building and relocate fell through.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to the Sad Caf, P.O. Box 1051, Plaistow, NH, 03865. Checks should be made payable to the Sade Caf. For more information, visit

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