Theatres across state receive grants, funds to help with operations and COVID-19 recovery

Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 6:41 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Across the state, theatres are celebrating new grants from the state to help foster participation in the arts.

The Arizona Commission on the Arts awarded over 5 million dollars to theatres all over Arizona, shining a spotlight on efforts to increase engagement and participation.

Over 360 grants were awarded to nonprofit arts organizations across Arizona based on factors like community investment and programming quality. The Arizona Commission has been supporting theatres and other organizations for years.

One theater located in the heart of Downtown Tucson was awarded almost 50 thousand dollars to help continue its now 93-year legacy.

“It’s a public process, which I really appreciate about government funding for the most part to do some type of process like that,” said Bonnie Schock, the executive director of the Fox Tucson Theatre.

“[It] gives us an opportunity to tell the story of the Fox and the kind of role the Fox plays in the community and share that with folks who might not be familiar with it.”

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, theatres all across Arizona and the country were hit hard since performances had to stop. And though frequent, performances don’t occur every day.

Grants like these help a theatre prevent from raising ticket prices too high at the box office and to help recover and reconnect a community.

“It’s increasingly important, that lesson I think when we lost these incredible assets and the opportunity to gather together and share an experience in a space like this,” said Schock. “When we lost that opportunity, I think people realized, just how important it is.”

The Fox Theatre wasn’t the only performing arts center in southern Arizona to get a grant.

The Invisible Theatre by the University of Arizona and the Arts Express Theatre in Park Place Mall were also recipients of a grant from the Arizona Commission.

The Arts Express Theatre offers more Broadway-like performances, such as musicals and plays. The grant helps Arts Express help provide musical theater to audiences that may not have had the chance to see a show before, and it even helps their young performers make their debut.

“The educational classes are separate from the productions, but the really cool thing is we integrate the students that are interested in being on stage with the professional actors that are on stage,” said Karen Wiese.

Wiese is the executive director and producer for Arts Express. Currently, the theatre is working on its new season featuring shows like Mary Poppins.

“They are mentored in that way and are performing right alongside professional actors.”

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