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Theater relief: City granting $100K in credits to performing arts groups

By Becca Whitnall Thousand Oaks Acorn – #thousand-oaks-ca

The show must go on . . . eventually.

When it does, it will do so with financial help from the City of Thousand Oaks.

The city has agreed to provide $100,000 in rental credits to local theater, music and dance nonprofits that perform at the Bank of America Performing Arts Center. They’re also giving another $100,000 to social service groups that have provided community support during the pandemic.

The money is coming from two endowment funds that are intended for other purposes which the City Council said are not as big of a priority during the time of COVID-19: sports facilities and community events.

For more than 20 years, the city has given out thousands of dollars annually (outside of a brief period between 2009 and 2010 when the programs were suspended) to sports teams and event organizers through two separate endowments— the Sports Facilities Endowment Fund and the Community Events Endowment Fund.

“While (sports and events) are important programs, this virus has caused many priorities to shift this year,” Melissa Hurtado, assistant to the city manager, told the council Aug. 25. “Staff believes the performing arts rent relief and the social services emergency relief programs would be a more fitting use of the grant funds for this year.”

Hurtado said the city plans to re-establish its practice of handing out grants to local sports organizations and those planning community events next year. Officials hope that by that time sporting events and community gatherings will once again be allowed by the health department.

The arts grants will come in the form of rental credit for the Kavli Theatre and Scherr Forum.

After some discussion by the council, members agreed that the three Bank of America Performing Arts Center resident companies— Pacific Festival Ballet, 5-Star Theatricals and New West Symphony— will each receive $15,000 in credit each.

Other Thousand Oaks-based arts companies will also be eligible to receive grants. The city has set aside $15,000 so companies can each receive $1,500 in theater rental credit. Staffers said they expect about 10 companies to apply for the credits.

Councilmember Claudia Bill-de la Peña said helping the arts organizations is important because the companies can’t go back to work until theaters are allowed to reopen. She had initially suggested granting resident companies $20,000.

“We have high-caliber, Tony award-winning or -nominated musicians and L.A. film musicians driving for DoorDash and Postmates right now,” Bill-de la Peña said. “I just want you to know that.”

Along with the theater rental relief program, the council established the Social Services Emergency Relief Program, which designates $100,000 to help nonprofit organizations that are providing COVID-related services, like meal preparation and delivery, housing support, remote learning aid and outreach to isolated seniors.

Each qualifying organization will be awarded up to $10,000.

Details on how to apply for a social services emergency relief grant is available at toaks.org/grants.