In the Moment: Creative Cauldron Awarded Grants for its Technical Theater Training Project

Theater has a great deal to offer well beyond acting before an enthralled audience. Not only is theater a source of inspiration and entertainment, but it can be a wonderful opportunity to learn and practice a valued, long-term design craft that can provide a source of employment. Recently Creative Cauldron in Falls Church, VA was awarded multiple grants to support a critical technical theater project for at-risk youth. The grants will help fund training and hands-on experience as a lighting designer with employment opportunities for those who successfully participate.

Gina Caceci. Photo courtesy of Ms Gaceci.
Gina Caceci, President of Creative Cauldron’s Board of Directors. Photo courtesy of Ms Gaceci.

“We at Creative Cauldron are dedicated to providing diverse experiences in the performing and visual arts.” Said Gina Caceci, President, Creative Cauldron Board of Directors.  “We give people of all ages, incomes and backgrounds opportunities to connect and grow through the arts.”

Creative Cauldron received funding from from the Arts Council of Fairfax County and The Hanlon Family Fund at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia to support a new Technical Theater Training Program for At-Risk Youth.  The program is in partnership with Homestretch, Inc.

“Receiving these grants gives Creative Cauldron another way to execute our mission and to support our community as well. The teens from Homestretch will not only gain a marketable skill, but will also experience the arts from another point of view.” added Caceci.

The Arts Council of Fairfax County awarded the project a 2 to 1 matching grant of $2,500. The Hanlon Family Fund at the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia awarded the project an additional $2,500. Through The Technical Theater Training Project that is just beginning, Creative Cauldron will give Homestretch students grades 7-12 the opportunity to participate in an intensive lighting design and technical training workshop. The students will learn the fundamentals of design for theatrical and concert lighting.

Creative Cauldron's Producing Director Laura Connors Hull. Photo by Gary Mester.
Creative Cauldron’s Producing Director Laura Connors Hull. Photo by Gary Mester.

“Creative Cauldron has always believed in the transformative power of the arts,” said Producing Director Laura Connors Hull. “In this case it’s not just about the art. The Technical Theater Training Project is an investment in the economic future of our booming industry. It will teach these teens that the arts can be followed as a passion – but also can provide a career path.”

Homestretch, Inc. empowers Northern Virginia homeless families to attain permanent housing and self-sufficiency by giving them the skills, knowledge and the hope they need to become productive participants in the community. Homestretch teens participating in Technical Theater Training project will learn about lighting equipment, safety, electricity usage, and how to program and operate a computerized lighting board. Some graduates of the program will then be hired as part-time lighting technicians during Creative Cauldron’s 2016-17 performance season, and will be connected with the burgeoning DC metro area theater community for future employment opportunities.

 Jaclyn Merrills, Homestretch Youth and Family Coordinator.
Jaclyn Merrills, Homestretch Youth and Family Coordinator.

“The new program that Creative Cauldron is beginning will extend a special opportunity for teens from our client families to learn about the world of technical theater,” said Jaclyn Merrills, Homestretch Youth and Family Coordinator. “The professional training that they will receive will certainly be of value as they begin to explore their future career interests and options for employment.”

In an interview, Creative Cauldron’s Hull noted that in trying to meet the theater company’s current need to expand its pool of qualified lighting technicians, it occurred to her “that we might be able to provide training to young people who are interested in this exciting field.”   With a long association with the Homestretch organization the two organizations were able to together develop the Technical Theater Training project and the possibility of employment that can come along with it.

Creative Cauldron expects to employ 2-4 participants who complete the program for its “upcoming season at a very competitive salary that will help these vulnerable families.” noted Hull. “We are thrilled to receive the grants from the Arts Council of Fairfax County and the Community Fund for Northern Virginia that will fund this program, and excited about the idea that we will be able to help many of these teens develop marketable employment skills.”

As the new program ramps up, Creative Cauldron is seeking matching funds to support the Technical Theater Training Project. Individuals interested in contributing should visit their website. The new training project will help the theater community and Homestretch, Inc clients seeking new job skills.

1448765591 (1)Note: Creative Cauldron was founded in 2002 with a mission to make opportunities for learning, participation, and enjoyment of the arts available and affordable in the community it serves. In 2011, Producing Director Laura C. Hull received the Carroll V. Shreve Award from the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce for meritorious community service. Creative Cauldron received a 2012 Dominion Power Rising Star Award as an organization that “has an extraordinary impact on the community, successfully develops community partnerships, earns business, legislative, and local community support, contributes to K-12 education and has demonstrated sustained excellence.”


Note: The Arts Council of Fairfax County is the voice of the arts, dedicated to fostering dynamic and diverse local arts, ensure that arts thrive by providing vision, leadership, capacity building services, advocacy, funding, education and information. “Across Fairfax County, arts and culture are helping to build stronger communities, improving the quality of life, and fostering economic growth. The Art’s Council’s grants programs provide vital funds for basic operation of local arts organizations and recognize the valuable programs and services they provide to Fairfax County residents,” says Linda S. Sullivan, President and CEO of the Arts Council of Fairfax County.


Note: The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia’s Community Investment Funds are the largest and most competitive discretionary grant cycle managed by the Foundation, and one of the largest pools of funds supporting broad-based giving in critical areas of need throughout the Northern Virginia region. “Despite the region’s wealth, this Community Investment grants process always emphasizes the profound need we see in Northern Virginia,” says Community Foundation Board Member and 2016 Community Investment Fund Grants Committee Chair Ken Huntsman. “We are fortunate to engage passionate and knowledgeable volunteers to help us review the applications. This year’s grantees are all doing critical work with the neediest in our community.”


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