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L.A. Beat

New West Theatre asking community to “Save Our Stage” with urgent funding request

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Long standing  professional theatre company New West Theatre has fallen on tough times like a lot of  local community groups and arts organizations, so they are reaching out the the community  to “Save Our Stage.”


They have been providing family friendly entertainment and have given local performers a break on the big stage for the past 30 years, but lately veered off in to a slightly more experimental, more serious, issues heavy direction, which hasn’t been as successful as they hoped.


Kyle Gruninger and Kathy Zaborsky performing in one of the popular music comedy revues All Spruced Up. Photo by Richard Amery

 The September production of rock and roll musical  “Next to Normal” and “Barvinok” weren’t as successful as they anticipated, so they are returning to what works, more mainstream shows like their family friendly music comedy revues.


 With  that “ course correction” in mind, they have set a goal of raising $150,000 in the next two months.


“Every little bit helps,” said New West board Chair Dawn Leite, after telling a story about her nephew Declan asking her why she was writing letters asking for help, and offering to donate  five dollars.


“We expanded our offerings this year. We underestimated the community’s appetite for different programming,” Leite told a Nov. 18 press conference, noting they will be going back to programming that is a sure bet.


“ Audiences have not returned to pre-covid levels. So we’re returning to fun, family oriented theatrical selections,” she said.


“We need a little bit of additional funding to make that course correction,” she continued, adding they haven’t launched such a large fundraising campaign before, though they have done smaller campaigns.


 New West Theatre’s next big show is their annual “Blockbuster” holiday show running Dec.14-31 to be directed by New West veteran Grahame Renyk.



 Leite said  there are some special live fundraising events on the horizon to help raise the extra money, which will be announced later.

She said the extra funds are essential.


“ It‘s critical. There is an urgent need,” she said acknowledging times are hard for a lot of people who have lost jobs and are just getting used to going out again after Covid.


“We have a number of reserves we can dip into,” she said, noting it is also national philanthropy week.


“We are working toward a new, more sustainable business model featuring in-depth financial examination and consideration while bringing back more family-friendly programming that New West Theatre audiences have come to love. Like most not-for-profit arts organizations we rely on funding from a combination of sources, including public funders, corporate sponsors, and private donors, in addition to ticket sales. However, the company needs additional time to make that course correction. The funds we raise through this effort will ensure we can successfully make that change,” said  Leite in a press release. 


 Long time performer, director, musical director and choreographer Kathy Zaborsky said New West Theatre provides important opportunities for up and coming performers from the university and community to  break into professional theatre.


“We’re really grateful the community has been so supportive of New West Theatre. A lot of New West performers have gone on to successful careers in the arts,” she said, adding she is grateful to have been part of New West Theatre for the past 25 years.


 Zaborsky is looking forward to  the next show “Blockbuster” and working with Renyk again.


“ It will be so funny,” she promised.


“ We‘ve been going for 30 years and hope to keep going for another 30,”Leite said.


 Donations can be made online through, over the phone at 403-381-9378 or in person at the New West office at the Yates Theatre.

— By Richard Amery, l.A. Beat Editor 

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