School of Theatre receives grant for outreach programs

Dan Stroble

The Kent State School of Theatre and Dance and its professional affiliate, the Porthouse Theatre, recently received a $7,500 grant from the Akron Community Foundation for two performing arts outreach programs. The foundation approved the donation June 9 and announced it June 14.

The first program is a “bridge” program designed for underrepresented incoming freshmen. It allows them to work on professional and organizational skills and discipline in a hands-on professional theater environment on- and off-stage, said John Crawford, director of the school.

“(These are skills) that they can apply to future careers,” Crawford said.

The other program is a set of three Porthouse community nights for underrepresented Summit County residents to attend. The events are offered to groups such as the Red Cross, Akron Jewish Family Services, the Barberton Senior Center and groups for individuals with mental disabilities.

Another group invited to the community nights is the King Kennedy Community Center. In 2005, Porthouse raised $4,500 for the center, which is partly funded and was developed by Kent State students, said Effie Tsengas, director of public relations and marketing at Porthouse.

It allows the school to pay for tickets and give people who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to attend a live theater event, Crawford said.

Porthouse is an outdoor theater on the grounds of Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls. About a third of the 100 staff members are Kent State students. The rest are outside professionals and students from other colleges.

The group works together on- and off-stage to perform Porthouse’s three summer productions. It recently finished “Dames at Sea” and will perform “Our Town” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” later this summer. It is in its 39th year.

All of the grant money lasts one year, so the department must reapply every year.

“We have given grants to Porthouse Theatre since 1993 that I’m aware of,” said Jody Bacon, Akron Community Foundation president.

Bacon said her organization offers opportunities to Summit County area organizations.

“The Akron Community Foundation builds permanent philanthropic dollars,” Bacon said. “It’s a public charity, and we make grants.”

The Akron Community Foundation’s grant money originates from charitable bequests and gifts, according to its Web site. The group donates its money within four separate categories and made the grant to Porthouse in the Arts and Culture category.

Contact general assignment reporter Dan Stroble at [email protected].