07/12/09 — Local youth performing groups strong despite economy

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Local youth performing groups strong despite economy

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 12, 2009 12:25 AM

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StageStruck students practice a dance routine during a recent summer workshop held by the local group which gives children acting experience through a variety of productions each year.

A sluggish economy hasn't stopped local arts groups from offering activities for Wayne County's children.

Several local groups are holding camps and workshops throughout the summer, in addition to public performances through the coming year.

StageStruck has noticed a small decrease in its yearly patron drive, but won't have to decrease any of its programs, said Tammy Lee, studio manager.

Its capital fund drive, which began in 2007 to pay for StageStruck's new building, is ongoing. So far, $185,000 has been raised toward the goal of $225,000. The group has pledges through the end of this year, Ms. Lee said.

To help the fund drive along, StageStruck is selling stars that anyone can buy in honor of someone. They cost $75 each and are being used to decorate the rehearsal room.

StageStruck also receives a yearly grant from the Arts Council for its children's Missoula theater.

"We have applied for other grants in the past and have received them," Ms. Lee said. "But we haven't gotten any grants in the past year."

Even that hasn't stopped StageStruck from providing workshops and performances for Goldsboro's children.

Five workshops are being held this summer -- two Storytellers for ages 4 through 6, Stars for children in first through seventh grade, Drama Works for those in grades six through 12 and Voice for students in grades three through 12.

Performances have already been lined up, too. StageStruck's traditional nonmusical play will be "Miracle on 34th Street" in the fall, followed by "Grease" in February.

StageStruck is for children in kindergarten through 12th grade to help them learn about the performing arts, Ms. Lee said. "It makes them more well-rounded."

Another arts group that's seen a decrease in funding is Center Stage Theatre.

"Grants are down as well," said Vincent Bridgers, president. "Lower donations and a decrease in grant income definitely can have an effect on what shows we do especially ones for children."

Bridgers explained that a lot of well-known shows oriented around children are large musicals and it's difficult to pay the high royalties and venue costs for these shows. Plus there are increased costs in costumes and props for large children's productions.

He said the group tries to do at least one production a year that has a large cast of children.

"It is because of decreasing donations and increasing venue and royalty costs that Center Stage Theatre decided to produce one musical during its 2009/10 season instead of the usual two," Bridgers said.

Center Stage has already planned its upcoming season, which will include "Christmas Carol" and "Oliver."

Center Stage Theatre has been entertaining Wayne County and beyond for much longer than most people realize, Bridgers said, having been around since 1978.

The Goldsboro Ballet is busy with summer dance camps with guest artists such as Jennifer Guy from Elon University, Kashka Pickett from Phoenix City, Ala., Abby Davis from North Carolina State University, and Paige Stewart, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

"We have been busy and will be busy," said Peggy Wingate, executive and artistic director. "The economy has suffered this whole year, but we have been able to manage through."

She said the group has been very involved in raising money this year.

One fundraiser will be a performance of "The Love of Dance" and a silent auction Sept. 19 at Wayne Community College's auditorium.

The group has done this performance the past several years and has usually raised about $3,000 each time. And it hopes to raise that much again this year.

The money is used to help pay for guest choreographers and a performance of "The Nutcracker."

Goldsboro Ballet also sends out a written appeal to its patrons each July, which usually brings in $2,000.

As an affiliate of the Arts Council, Goldsboro Ballet receives yearly grants through that group. The past two years, it has also gotten a grant from the Rotary.

Through fundraising and grants, Goldsboro Ballet will once again offer field trips at a nominal fee for local schools to "The Nutcracker" in December and "Mary Poppins" in March.