Permian Playhouse to offer more theater camps

January 6, 2019

Over the next two years, with a grant from the Permian Basin Area Foundation, the Permian Playhouse plans to expand its theater camps.

“The grant from the Permian Basin Area Foundation is specifically for our skills-based educational camps and it is a two-year grant. You can only apply every other year, so the grant itself you have to make the funds stretch for two years,” playhouse manager Brian Serrano said.

The grant was for $20,000, he added.

“That’s going to cover six camps — spring break of 2019 and 2020, Shrek and Mulan Junior are our two summer camps for 2019 and then whatever two summer camps we decide on for 2020,” Serrano said.

“We’re increasing the number of camps instead of campers per camp,” he added.

He said it has been years since the playhouse has applied for a Permian Basin Area Foundation grant. It’s also the first time in three and a half years that the Permian Playhouse has an employee. Serrano became manager in August.

The playhouse received a grant for 2019 from Odessa Arts, but that goes toward its regular theater season, Serrano said.

“What we love about this is utilities rise, cost of materials rise and in the Permian Basin everything’s more expensive than anywhere else on planet Earth, so by receiving these grants we’re able to lock in our camp prices for two more years and not have to go up. This will make up any difference in cost increase for us,” Serrano said.

Now they will be able to tell parents that the cost of camp for 2019-2020 is going to be the same.

“That’s a huge blessing to us as an organization, and in turn to the community, because now they can expect same great quality we’ve done and not have to” pay more, he added.

The goal of the Permian Playhouse is not to be cost prohibitive.

“… Our theater school and Kaleidoscope Company costs $150 for the entire semester, so you get either September through December or January through May for $150,” he said.

Last year, Serrano said they had 60 participate in the camps with a waiting list of 22.

“However, every kid who makes the camp is guaranteed a part in the show. Sixty kids is too many kids to be in one musical production, so because of that we’ve split our camps in two and we’re going to allow them to have 40 in each camp,” Serrano said.

He added that this will make it more manageable for the directors.

More youngsters will be exposed to the arts because of the grant, as well.

“We see the desire in our community. Last year, we had roughly 35 students in our theater school, which runs first through sixth grade. This year, we have 71, so the interest is out there. The Permian Basin is huge with the influx of oilfield population and not all of those kids play football,” Serrano said.

“In Odessa, football is king. I myself was a football player and have been a football coach. However, I know there are kids that that’s not their thing. The arts are. So we want to make sure that there is not just an option, but a quality option for students (for whom) athletics isn’t their thing,” he said.

He praised the playhouse board for its vision of seeing the organization become all it can be.

“Because of that they worked hard to get us to a healthy state, so now we’re able to have an employee and our eyes are set on expanding the staff, remodeling the facilities and just constantly moving forward on the track to improvement,” Serrano said.

In the future, the playhouse may consider offering a children’s camp, junior high camp and high school camp, but Serrano said they aren’t there yet.

The playhouse was founded in 1965. Enid Holm spearheaded it.

“Ms. Holm was not just a giant here in theater, but in the state of Texas. She was also responsible for helping found and launch the Texas Nonprofit Theater Association, which now covers hundreds of theaters across the state of Texas, so we were started by someone who did it right, so to speak. I believe that firm foundation is why we’re still here going in 2019,” Serrano said.

Past President Catherine Daniels said receiving the grant was exciting. She added that local grants like the one from PBAF are paramount to growth and being able to provide more opportunities, classes and educational opportunities.

“We’ve done so much growing in the past three years … just being able to receive some local grants on top of the financial growth is welcome. It’s going to keeps us moving in the right direction,” Daniels said.

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