Anonymous donor gives students free access to the YouTheatre stage
$300,000 allows Egyptian Theatre to expand programming
An anonymous donor has made it possible for students in Park City and Summit and Wasatch counties to learn about the performing arts for free as they do math, science and language.
The donation of $300,000 will support the Egyptian Theatre’s YouTheatre program, and students will not have to pay to participate as they have in the past, said director Jamie Wilcox.
“When you charge tuition, you’re always trying to prove the worth of what you’re charging for, so instead of having to prove that, we will continue to provide strong programming by offering more classes,” she said. “The donation will allow us to offer more opportunities — once-a-month workshops, in addition to our regular 10-week sessions, where students can drop in and participate. We will also have two five-week sessions in our semesters.”
The $300,000 did come with one condition — it must be matched — and YouTheatre is well on its way to matching the donation, Wilcox said.
Part of the matching dollars will be taken from the Egyptian Theatre’s endowment fund, which currently totals $1.3 million.
“The endowment gives us stability for the future,” said Theater Manager Randy Barton. “Half of the earnings will help support the theater. One-third of the half will go to YouTheatre. One-third will go to capital improvements and the other third will go to supporting our general operations.”
General operations include presenting live concerts and theater performances, according to Barton.
Other matching funds will be culled from grants and a percentage of the Egyptian Theatre’s Pharaoh memberships, Wilcox said.
Some of the new programs will officially start in September, but Wilcox and her faculty will host a handful of preliminary sessions to introduce the public to select classes.
“On Aug. 19 and 20, we will host two hours of ‘taster’ sessions,” she said. “Families and kids can come in and participate in 30 minutes of three different classes to see if they like them.”
Adding to the “taster” sessions, Wilcox has started mapping out YouTheatre’s new programming.
“We are going to hold YouTheatre forums Mondays and Tuesdays during the final three weeks of August, and people, especially those interested in YouTheatre, can come and hear about our history, where we are and what we’re shooting for,” she said.
Wilcox plans to use some funding to expand the after-school YouTheatre programs, which have been traditionally held at the four Park City School District elementary schools and the Weilenmann School of Discovery.
“We will partner with each of the school’s after-school programs, so every child in grades one to five will all get a taste of the creative arts one day a week for 10 weeks,” she said.
In addition, YouTheatre will return to the South Summit School District.
“We’ve been at South Summit School District for a long time, but because of COVID, it has taken quite a while for us to get back there,” Wilcox said. “Now, we’re planning to go back to the elementary, middle and high schools. And we will also start programming at three or four Wasatch School District schools as well through our partnership with Youth Sports Alliance and their Get Out & Play programs.”
Funds will also be used to hire more YouTheatre faculty and staff members, according to Wilcox.
“We have six full-time salaried staff members on our team,” she said. “For nine years we only had one, who was me. When we came back from the pandemic, we had two. Now we have six strong teachers. And we plan to hire more part-time teachers so we can hold more workshops, more classes and present more productions.”
YouTheatre has been operating in some capacity at the Egyptian Theatre since the 1970s as a tuition-based program, according to Wilcox.
“The thing is people who pay full price for the program are sometimes not our biggest success stories,” she said. “We have a lot of scholarship kids who are high-achieving, and Randy and I feel we want to be the place where kids can get free and quality education in the arts like they do with math, science, language and all of those subjects through the public school system. So, we’re using the donation to create a space for everyone and making sure we remain a space for our most committed kids.”
Echo Church travels into the past with a Transcontinental Railroad exhibit
Tourists and residents can immerse themselves in the past through free, self-guided tours at the historic Echo Church.
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