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Parkersburg South receives Thespian Relief grant

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg South High School has received a $500 grant from the Educational Theatre Foundation’s new Thespian Relief Fund.

Fifty grants were awarded in two categories: $500 for schools to start or renew a thespian troupe and cover lifetime fees for 10 students; and $1,000 to assist programs that, because of COVID-19, have been impacted by cancellation of events or loss of projected revenue.

The foundation released 40 $500 grants and 10 $1,000 grants have been awarded to 40 school thespian programs in 22 states, the amount totalling $30,000.

Parkersburg South was one of two schools in West Virginia to receive a grant from the Cincinatti-based foundation, the other being Capital High School in Charleston.

School theater programs use box office proceeds to fund next year’s shows. With schools closed and spring shows canceled, and major cuts anticipated in state education budgets, many programs are at risk of failing, the foundation said. According to a recent survey from the Educational Theatre Association, about half the survey respondents lost between 26 percent and 50 percent of their revenue.

In response, the foundation established the Thespian Relief Fund to provide financial support for school theater programs at schools in most need, including Title 1 schools with significant student enrollments of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, as well as rural and small schools with few or no support resources.

Initial donations for the Thespian Relief Fund came from Project Sing Out!, a one-night livestreamed event conceived by Tony Award nominee and Thespian alum Hailey Kilgore. The event, which took place July 20, raised funds for ETF to support arts education specifically in low-income communities and communities of color. It can still be viewed exclusively on Playbill.com’s YouTube Channel and Facebook page. Donations to support the Thespian Relief Fund are now being accepted by the Educational Theatre Foundation.

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