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Arts & Culture

San Antonio's Theater Scene is Long on Space, Short on Productions

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

Brad Adams and Gloria Molina-Sanchez in AtticRep’s production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Photo: , License: N/A

Dru Barcus and Brendan Spieth in Classic Theatre’s Scapin

Patty Ortiz, executive director of GCAC, points out that the Guadalupe does underwrite community use of the theater, concentrating on finding outside grants instead of rental fees as matching funds for City grants. “Because GCAC is multi-disciplinary, we feel a commitment to local and international productions,” said Ortiz. “We began last fall with Lisa Cortez and Attagirl Productions’ Detained in the Desert, and also brought in the Spanish-language version of The Vagina Monologues. But the theater is a multi-use space, so it’s juggling times and schedules.” As for those who believe the Guadalupe isn’t opening up enough to local talent, she says, “Apply. Next spring we are looking for local groups to perform.”

The San Pedro Playhouse, located in a City-owned facility in San Pedro Park, is the oldest continuing theater in San Antonio, having been founded as The Little Theater in 1930. Now known simply as the Playhouse, they receive $138,000 a year from DCCD, pay actors, and forego rentals. Asia Ciaravino, president and CEO, was one of Classic Theatre’s founders, and since she took the helm at the Playhouse, has been making quiet structural changes — one she hopes to implement next year is the ability to extend runs. Like the Guadalupe and the Classic, the Playhouse mounts vigorous grant writing campaigns. Said Ciaravino, “the more you write, the more you receive.”

Jump-Start Performance Co. is also a recipient of a DCCD grant, $201,750 annually. They produce strong, but short-running, shows of their own, though they offer educational programs and are aggressive in bringing in performances by other companies. Now looking at the loss of their space in Southtown next year, the organization is faced with deciding whether they will need to shrink in size, or have opportunities to expand; topics, says Jump-Start’s Foxx, that are under discussion with DCCD and the Center City Development Office, which is exploring available locations within downtown that might be a fit for the theater company.

Some companies of high merit receive very small grants. The Classic receives $23,000 annually in DCCD grants, and plans to perform the first part of their 2013-14 season at the Jump-Start space. It is exploring both the option of remaining with Jump-Start, if an adequate facility for both companies is found, or going out on their own.

AtticRep, one of the few companies with the professional talent needed to forge an Actors Equity house, currently receives only $13,000 in DCCD grants. One of their greatest limits is that they are in residence at Trinity Universty’s Attic Theatre, and must schedule around the demands of students. Rick Frederick, actor, director, and interim managing director of AtticRep, believes his company is ready to go fulltime. At present, all members work day jobs, though actors are paid, and equity members have received waivers to work with the company. The company, however, would have to find a large endowment to move to a facility that could house a fulltime theater company. At present, Trinity gives them their space rent-free.

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