Fox Theater Foundation programming returned this spring with a busy schedule. While the theater was dark for a period during the COVID-19 pandemic and programming for students was on hold, the second half of this academic year was a busy one.
The organization returned with its Live Tech program, partnering with Live Nation. This vocational and career technical education for high school students teaches hands-on theater technology. The free programming which is offered to students in Riverside Unified School District and Alvord Unified School District trains up to 200 students in audio, visual, lighting and stagecraft on the equipment used at the Fox theater. Not only did students miss the program, but Live Nation staff was also looking forward to its return according to Cynthia Wright, Fox Theater Foundation’s Executive Director.
The Live Tech program creates meaningful career paths for students looking for nontraditional employment opportunities, Wright said. Live Tech alum from Ramona High School, Adolfo Diaz, even landed a job through the program.
“The assistant production manager said they need more students like Adolfo,” Wright said. “We helped a student find a career path that is perfect for him.”
In addition to the Live Tech program, Fox Theater Foundation also brings students to the stage, both working with Broadway performers and seeing shows. The opportunity to hear a performer discuss their path to success and challenges has a big impact on students, Wright said. It can be inspiring because the students can imagine it happening in their own lives. It can also be more meaningful when the mentor experience happens in their hometown instead of in a distant city.
The coming season’s Broadway programs include Step Up, The Nutcracker partnering with Inland Pacific Ballet, Anastasia; the Aretha Franklin story, R.E.S.P.E.C.T.; and Fiddler on the Roof. The Fox Theater Foundation plans to have a full and busy season. Wright also hopes that Master Classes for students will also return, giving students the opportunity to meet with performers from the Broadway shows.
Recently, Fox Theater Foundation received a Community Impact grant through the Inland Empire Community Foundation to fund programming to increase its reach to the Latino Community. While the organization reaches a diverse population through working with local school districts, it wants to create meaningful programming for Latino families.
Working with Dr. Richard Rodriguez, a Professor of Media and Cultural Studies and English at the University of California Riverside, Fox Theater Foundation will be surveying the Latino community. The survey will come out this summer and Wright encourages Latino families to participate and help shape programming for this fall.
“We want to work more with Latino families, and we don’t want to presume what the community wants,” Wright said.
Fox Theater Foundation plans to ensure that the theater, its performances and educational programming will be available to the community for decades to come. The organization was in the process of planning for a capital campaign at the onset of the pandemic. Ultimately, the Fox Theater Foundation would like to raise the funds for an endowment to support its work.
The Fox Theater Foundation is separate from the theater itself and is not run by Live Nation. Although the foundation’s partnership with Live Nation is strong and successful, the foundation depends on grants and donations to provide and grow its programming for local youth.
“Our donors are unique in that the greatest benefit they receive is their love of The Fox and knowing that kids are being exposed to performing arts,” Wright said. “I’m incredibly grateful for the support, even though we had an in-person hiatus.”
More information: https://riversidefoxfoundation.org/ or 951.826.5769
This article originally appeared in the Press Enterprise, July 2022.
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