YPT Visits the Army

Taking a day away from the YPT office, I recently spent some time at a different kind of event – a Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity fair at the Army National Guard in Virginia. Here at YPT we pursue all different kinds of funding opportunities to ensure that we can continue to provide programming for our students. Through CFC, federal employees have the opportunity to donate to a charity or charities of their choice through workplace giving.

Events like the one at the National Guard allow CFC charities (like YPT!) to share information about their work with federal employees, while these employees can learn more about organizations they might want to contribute to.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I showed up on Tuesday, but I set up the YPT table, put out a bowl of candy (a crucial part of any information table), and I ended up talking to a lot of cool people. The National Guard can seem a little intimidating at first with all its security and servicemen and women walking around in uniform, but everyone I met was very friendly and open to learning about YPT. I talked to several service members who lit up at the idea of the opportunities offered by YPT’s programs. “My daughter would love this!” exclaimed one mother, while a father told me about his son who writes music in his free time.  Another man recalled that he used to write plays himself, while yet another employee took the season flier after noting that he and his wife have been looking for new theaters to check out. Beneath the identical Army fatigues were artists, arts enthusiasts and proud parents, all united by their commitment to charitable giving.

I was also able to talk to some of the other CFC charities at the event. There was quite a diverse group! YPT sat alongside a charity that helped children in Africa, an environmental group, and an organization that provides free plane ride to veterans who need to travel for medical care, as well as several larger charities such as United Way that actually support smaller organizations like YPT. After manning tables for several hours, the charities were invited to give brief speeches about their work, and one of our own alumni gave a great speech about her experience with YPT.  Listening to these charities share stories about their work made me realize that YPT is part of a diverse and important group – CFC charities – that, thanks to the opportunities afforded by the CFC, work to make a difference locally and globally. As I learned, there are over 4,000 charities listed in the current CFC catalogue, so it’s pretty cool that YPT gets to be a part of this campaign. I’m looking forward to meeting more federal employees and charities at the next CFC event.

Development Assistant

The Need for Arts Education

by David Andrew Snider

Recently I talked with a board member from Theatre Communications Group (TCG), of which YPT is a member.   The TCG board was reaching out to all its members to find out what’s happening in our organizations and how TCG can better support us.  At the end of the conversation came the big question:  “Besides fundraising,” (which is assumed right now) “what’s your biggest challenge today?”  “Ensuring our relevance,” I said immediately.  “What do you mean?”

It’s a critical time for arts education and for live theatre in general.   While so many people spend more and more of their time in the virtual world, our work can be more important than ever.  To keep us connected, to keep us talking, to keep us alive to one another.  When push comes to shove and we’re talking about cuts to school budgets for books, to shelter, food and clothing providers, so many people today, even in nonprofits, will say “well, it’s not like the arts are a human service.”  To which I say, and said to the DC City Council last summer “The arts are a human service.  They are a human service.”  As much as we need to eat, sleep and clothe ourselves to be human, we need to express ourselves.  We need to be able to share with our neighbors and the rest of the world what’s bothering us, how others can help us and what we fear or dream of for our future.  When we cut off self-expression, when we deny the inherent need to communicate and be heard, we see the frustration and violence that results.  We see the school shootings, the fights in the hallway, the teen suicide.  We see how social media has again sparked in all of us the itch to be known, to see and be seen, to always be in touch.  So as we’re ensuring that critical needs are met in these challenging times, I think we need to consider not only what will get us through the night, through the next month or next couple of years, but also what we want to be, look like and represent when we get through it.  What kind of society do we want to have?  How do we know what people need if they can’t tell us?  And how can we envision our future if we’re not able to dream?