Thursday, January 24, 2008

Actors Don Festive Finery to Lobby for VCA

Posted by Phil Whiteway
Yesterday was Arts Advocacy Day at the Virginia General Assembly. Representatives of over 200 nonprofit arts organizations from throughout the Commonwealth joined forces to lobby the House and Senate for increased funding for the Virginia Commission for the Arts. Whereas many of our neighboring states fund their nonprofit arts industry at $2 per capita or more, Virginia funding still falls far short at less than 70 cents per capita.

The goal of Arts Advocacy Day is to increase Virginia’s public support for all of the Commonwealth’s nonprofit arts organizations to $1 per capita. That’s right, we’re working strenuously, and have been for years, to convince our elected officials that all of the arts in the entire state are worth one tax dollar per citizen.

We at Barksdale and Theatre IV did our part in this lobbying effort by providing each legislator with a voucher for two free tickets to the show of his or her choice, and by asking two of our handsomely costumed characters to help escort elected officials into the House of Delegates.

Above and to the right you'll see Jennings Whiteway escorting Del Riley Ingram from Hopewell. Del Ingram is a GREAT guy and a longtime friend. He entered the chambers through an alternate entrance, and when he noticed the performing artists escorting the Delegates in, he left his seat, worked his way around back to the main entrance, and re-entered with Jennings as a way of showing respect and support for Virginia's arts community.

The photo above and to the left shows Del Chris Saxman from Staunton, and the photo to the right shows Del Tom Gear from Hampton. In keeping with the theme of the Jamie Brindle blog post, we offer the photo below and to the left. When we were getting set up to begin the ushering, an eighth grader came racing in to say hello. Turns out it was Jake Boon, veteran child actor of Theatre IV's Santa's Toyland Adventure and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, now serving as a page in the General Assembly.

Great work, Jake!

After the escorting was done and the House had convened, Del Jennifer L McClellan, District 71 Richmond (the district in which the Empire is located), introduced our actors to the assembled body as follows:

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the House of Delegates –

It is my pleasure to recognize our two escorts today – Ms Jennings Whiteway and Mr. Eddie Tavares, representing the cast of The True Story of Pocahontas, produced by Theatre IV – The Children’s Theatre of Virginia.

Created and presented in association with the Virginia Historical Society, The True Story of Pocahontas toured to hundreds of elementary schools statewide throughout all of 2007, reinforcing the instruction mandated in Virginia’s Standards of Learning. In fact, Theatre IV, headquartered in my district, is the largest school-based, professional children’s theatre in the United States. They have performed in every school district in the Commonwealth, and currently reach over 500,000 Virginia children, parents and teachers each year.

Theatre IV is only one of over 200 nonprofit arts organizations in our state that are participating today in Arts Advocacy Day, in support of the Virginia Commission for the Arts. With you, I applaud all of our state’s nonprofit, professional arts organizations, and thank them for their invaluable contributions to education, tourism, economic development, and the quality of life we all enjoy throughout the Commonwealth."

Thanks to Jennings and Eddie for their efforts on behalf of Theatre IV and Barksdale Theatre. Special thanks to Del Jenn McClellan (pictured to the right with Gov Tim Kaine and Barack Obama) for her gracious introduction.

--Phil Whiteway

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jennings Whiteway is the arts' new secret weapon--with a big assist from costume director Sue Griffin. I love it! Which red-blooded Virginia senator or delegate wouldn't think just a little more positively about the value of the arts in Virginia after being escorted down the aisle by her? Every little bit of nudging helps. Good job!