Posted by Bruce Miller
One of the great pleasures of the Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa holidays is the opportunity to give the gift of theatre to those who have no chance to enjoy our work under other circumstances.
Throughout the year, Barksdale and Theater IV regularly donate approximately 10% of all our tickets to those who otherwise could not afford to attend. We've been doing this since Theatre IV's founding in 1975.
Most of the free or deeply discounted tickets are distributed through about 40 different nonprofit organizations that regularly work with us on two service initiatives: Barksdale's Bounty at B'dale and Tickets for Kids at Theatre IV.
At Christmastime, we also enjoy taking smaller performances out to children and seniors who can't make it in to one of our theatres to see us perform in our native habitat. One of our annual holiday visits is to the wonderful children at the Children's Hospital on Brook Rd.
On Wednesday, Dec 9, the Richmond Kiwanis Club and nine performers from Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV joined together to bring some holiday fun to about 30 kids, many of whom live in their wheelchairs and hospital beds at the Children's Hospital full time. The annual Holiday Party is made possible by a donation from the Kiwanis Club, all of which is used to buy refreshments and gifts for the hospital's inpatients and day patients.
During this year's party, Kiwanis members helped the children unwrap their gifts, and carolers from Theatre IV's production of A Christmas Carol (Charlie Dacus, Robin Harris-Jones, Billy Christopher Maupin, Mark Persinger and Ali Thibodeau) plus Chase Kniffen, Jennings Whiteway, Snow Bear and I donated time to sing for and with the hospital's patients and staff.
The ultimate event of the party is, of course, a visit from Santa.
"Most of our inpatients will be spending the holiday season at the hospital this year," said Stephanie Allan, Special Events Coordinator at Children's Hospital. "This event allows the children to enjoy the holiday spirit by bringing the festivities to them."
"Our club takes great pride in our long relationship with the Children's Hospital," said Bill McAllister, Co-Chairman of the Children's Hospital Committee of the Kiwanis Club of Richmond. "This will be the 56th year of our sponsorship of the Holiday Party. What a great way to kick off the season."
"Providing access to the theatre arts is part of Theatre IV's mission," said Jennings Whiteway, Donor Stewardship and Events Manager for Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV. "We are grateful for partners like Children's Hospital for giving us the opportunity to share the wonder of live theatre with these kids, lifting their spirits, especially during this time of year. It is a rewarding experience for everyone involved and something we love to be part of each year."
Many thanks to the performers who volunteer their talents each year to service initiatives like this one. If you'd like to participate or assist in future programs, please let me know. I can't think of anything we did this holiday season--and we did a LOT--that put me more in touch with the Christmas spirit.
Until next year's holidays, I look forward to seeing you at the theatre!