The Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center this year will take over an educational theater program that produces a show for thousands of young students across York County.
Until this month, the "Stage the Page" program was organized and funded by Performing Arts for Children, a nonprofit group that started the reading and theater program in 2006.
The program includes selecting a book to read that is donated to each participating classroom across York County. Teachers agree to go through lesson plans about the book, which culminates with students seeing the characters come to life with a live stage production.
The program grew to include 38 classes of children from kindergarten to second grade who traveled each spring to the Strand, which donated the theater space for the show.
Closing possible: The nonprofit still had many donors committed to covering the program's annual cost of between $35,000 and $40,000, said president Nada Seidon. But the group's infrastructure, which was completely volunteer, couldn't support hiring people to help the program continue and expand.
Instead, the group's board was considering shutting down the program for good.
"We were on the track of stopping everything," Seidon said.
But the Strand's board of directors, who have admired the 'Stage the Page" program for years, decided to step in, said Ken Wesler, the Strand's president and CEO.
"In a way, it was a happy coincidence," he said.
The Strand is placing a larger emphasis on education and the arts, Wesler said, which includes a new partnership with the York City School District's performing arts program. Assuming responsibility for the "Stage the Page" program made sense as well, he said.
Transition: In the coming year, Seidon will help the Strand transition into leadership of the program. The organizations have worked to narrow down the book selection for next year's show. As in years past, the Strand will also hire a children's theater group to act out the story.
Wesler said the goal for this next year is to hold steady on the current participants, including covering the cost of busing students to and from school. That cost accounts for about a third of the program's annual budget, he said.
But in future years, Wesler said the goal is to see it expand.
"We would love to see this become a program for all the school districts," he said.
Seidon said she's "thrilled" to see that, even though the nonprofit will be closing its operations, the program will continue as its legacy. The focus has always been on providing children an opportunity to increase literacy through the arts, she said.
"That's the most important part of this," Seidon said.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.