Theatre With a Conscience
New on the nonprofit scene, this local theatre troupe creates, rehearses and performs community-based dramatic presentations with a timely focus on issues of social justice. Each main stage production highlights another local nonprofit with all net proceeds dedicated to issues such as hunger, homelessness, racism, discrimination, and human trafficking.
An Interview with Dan Jamison, Board Chair
How did you become involved with VFV?
I saw a children’s theatre performance called “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” performed before a packed house at a neighborhood church. What I soon learned was the play was produced in order to benefit a local nonprofit. I visited with the Director, Molly Stuckey
, and learned that she wanted to form a performing arts group that would operate on this type of a model. We immediately went to work, formed a 501c3, recruited a Board of Directors….and here we are one year later
Who is your typical client or person who benefits from your services?
We specifically sponsor and produce plays that are of local interest that can be matched with successful local nonprofits that serve many clients throughout the region. For example, “Elf Junior” is the story of an orphan, so we have selected Love Inc
and Safe Families
to benefit from this effort. Our next main stage play which will be produced in March, 2017, is “Twelve Angry Jurors”. This effort, which is about a contentious jury trial, will benefit the Partnership for Safety and Justice
Star of VFV’s first production, The Phantom Tollbooth, Kadence Hancock shows off her costume.
How many shows are you hoping to do each year? We currently plan to produce four per year, two youth theatre productions, and two adult main stage productions.
Who is your typical donor? We have received donations from both individuals and businesses. Our appeal to individual donors is unique: they are giving to a successful performing arts group, with the added bonus of “paying it forward” by knowing the proceeds from the play then go to a worthy organization that is doing meaningful work in our area.
How do you choose the nonprofit organizations that you support? We are relatively new at this, but opportunities continue to emerge! For example, as we were considering “Twelve Angry Jurors”, the Malheur Occupation trial was unfolding, with a keen interest both locally and nationally. This helped cement our selection of the play. Matching the play to a worthy organization is a bit of homework and being open to ideas. A respected former colleague of mine who worked in Washington DC recently moved to Portland. Iris shared about her role as a Board member for Partnership for Safety and Justice. As we learned more about the great work they are doing to strengthen and reform the criminal justice system, our Board thought this would be a perfect match.
What is your most underfunded service? Our most underfunded service and our biggest challenge as a new nonprofit is marketing our productions. Everyone we have visited with loves our unique model of producing plays about social justice issues, and then “paying it forward”. We tend to believe our greatest immediate need is simply getting the word out through social media, conventional media, and advertising, and word of mouth. Some of this effort requires resources to advertise and promote.
If someone was interested in volunteering, what services might they be able to help provide? We love volunteers! There are opportunities for set construction, costume creation, media messaging, photography, graphic design, or even if you simply love attending plays…ushering at our events. As a relatively new organization, we are still uncovering and identifying our needs. Also, space is a premium. One of our biggest challenges is having space for our actors and actresses to rehearse. Every dollar saved in free or reduced rental space is an additional dollar that goes to the selected partner nonprofit.
Is there anything else we should know about this awesome organization? Our Board had a discussion early on and shared that “New nonprofits are often held together by duct tape and love!” Looking back at the last year, we would say this is true. Yet we also have a growing sense of momentum and success. We are amazed that others are beginning to step up and become more engaged, and we are thankful for a small but growing number of community-minded folks who are giving financially. These are exciting times for us.
Celebrate the Holidays with Elf Jr.
Join the Young Voices this December as they bring to life “Elf Jr.” a musical based on the cherished New Line Cinema hit, Elf.
This play tells the story of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and that his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Holiday fun for the whole family and a wonderful opportunity to support the community. Get your tickets here before they’re gone!