The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts (the “Center”) in Richmond, CA has long been a client of PRG. The Center provides access to the arts to over 4,000 kids ages 3 – 18 through instruction in dance, music, theater and digital arts. Historically, instruction is done in both in the schools in Richmond, as well as at EBCPA’s beautiful site in the historic Winter’s Building in downtown Richmond.
Reaching nearly 9 months into COVID, we are thrilled with their abilities to support their many student families and their move to a virtual instruction model to keep the youth in Richmond performing and dancing, maintaining their expressive outlets to inspire during these difficult times. During this unprecedented year, the Center also went above and beyond to find support for basic living essentials.
Rapid Program Pivot
When COVID hit, the Center recognized quickly staff had to rethink their approach in order to continue their services. Miraculously, within a week or so, 90% of their programs and services were converted into a virtual educational platform. It was a steep learning curve for the staff and faculty with regards to technology, and the transition, while short, was not without its bumps. The team worked diligently to get Faculty set up to be able to work from home, and students were supported and educated on how they were going to receive instruction from home. The local schools did their best to get laptops to students in need, and the Center set up times for students to safely pick up instruments they would be borrowing for the foreseeable future.
Going Beyond the Dance to Meet Basic Living Needs
Thanks to a generous early donor, the Center made cash available to help directly support local families experiencing an immediate crisis for food and housing insecurity, as well as challenges with legal, medical, and government aid access. The faculty jumped-in to provide emotional health support along with tutoring and academic assistance to its students while primary and secondary schools remain closed.
Weeks Turned to Months – More Offerings of Support
During the critical college application process for high school seniors, the Center staff supported 22 senior students this spring through their final application processes, financial aid applications, and the results were all students were accepted and went onto college this fall. A huge win!
Over the summer, the Center pivoted from its normal 8-5pm Summer Intensive Program with diploma students, to open tuition-free group classes. Staff realized how important it was for Faculty to continue to support the kids through the challenges of COVID, understanding their isolation and economic challenges. Fortunately, due to the connection and care the Faculty focused on, only a few students overcome by virtual fatigue, dropped out of the program.
An In-Person to Virtual Gala Event – a HUGE Success!
On September 24, 2020, the Center held their 10th Annual fall Gala. Normally the event is limited to 150 people, the maximum their facility can hold, and the event usually raises around $250K.
This year, like many organizations, the Center pivoted to a virtual event. The new format enabled many more eager supporters to participate. Board, staff and parents hosted virtual tables, and more than 500 people donated to the Center, netting $320K! Videos highlighted Center students, alumni, renowned faculty artists, social justice leaders and their family of supporters. The gala, a mix of pre-recorded and live presentations, highlighted the beauty and resilience of the students in the power of the performing arts to heal.
Realizing how the forced move to a virtual platform opened up their audience and donor base, staff will continue to offer a hybrid of live and virtual programs going forward. In an effort to build their virtual capabilities, the Center created a task force to help them map out their needs to thrive in a virtual world, not only around the programs they offer, but potentially inclusive of the needs of their community they serve as they have done this year. They also plan to hire tech help to upgrade their website, train Faculty in virtual platforms, and build out their services in this new online environment.
CONGRATULATIONS to the Center’s staff, faculty and students on such a successful pivot and going above and beyond to meet the needs of their communities and on so many levels of their students and family needs!