Arts and Entertainment

Families on the EDGE helps keep Theater School in session at BPA

Improv for a cause.

Three years ago, when Bainbridge Performing Arts was looking for a fundraiser to support its Theater School program, Laurie Arnold thought of the Edge Improv.

“I’m a big Edge fan,” she said, “and a big improv fan. They’re sort of our island treasure, so, I thought, ‘use what you have.’ “

About 52 percent of BPA's Theatre School program is covered by tuitions, Arnold said. Even when adding in money from ticket sales and donations, supplemental funding is still need. With a fundraising auction placed during the intermission of an Edge show, she thought, the improv troupe’s eccentric antics were likely to lighten the mood, lift spirits and, perhaps, even subconsciously help raise some paddles.

It was a hit. Last year’s event raised $20,000.

And now the Families on the EDGE Theatre School fundraiser is an annual tradition, which has grown to include BBQ and live music on the front end, with a few auctions and a kid friendly raffle in addition to the Edge performance. This year, students from the Theater School will be performing as well and Guy Sidora, who Arnold calls “the Pied Piper of Bainbridge,” will be entertaining the kids during the intermission auction.

It all begins at 5 p.m. July 19, tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for kids, supporting the Theater School program.

“The thing that I think is wonderful about the program is just what it does for kids and their self-esteem,” Arnold said. “It helps develop their ability to relate to kids of all ages. It’s just really kind of great.”

She got to know the program through her son, Malcom, who, when his parents took him to see a play when he was 6 or 7 years old, said, “I want to do that.”

Now he’s 15 and envisioning a life in theater, and the Arnolds are regular theater-goers.

“We came to attending the theater through the Theater School,” Laurie noted.

Passionate about what the program had done for her son, and others in the program, Laurie joined the education committee to help keep the experience available for kids.

“The thing that’s also been great... we’ve never had to turn anyone away for, we call them scholarships, for financial aid,” she said. “This year, we’ve seen a serious up kick in those requests, but we still don’t want to have to turn anyone away.”

Families on the EDGE, BPA’s family-friendly fundraising evening for the Theatre School program starts at 5 p.m. July 19 at BPA, 200 Madison Ave. N on Bainbridge. Tickets are $35 for adults, $20 for kids to support the program. Info: www.bainbridgeperformingarts.org, www.theedgeimprov.com

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