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Grant challenge fuels fundraising efforts

The check isn’t in the mail, but it will be if a local theatre group can rally its supporters.

Whidbey Children’s Theatre has received a $25,000 grant from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust to purchase technical equipment for their venue.

But before they can collect the funds, they must raise $25,000 in matching funds.

“When we raise that $25,000, then we can outfit the theatre the way it’s been designed to be outfitted,” said Peggy Juve, president of the board of directors.

Even though obtaining the grant requires raising funds for the theatre, Juve is excited about the prospect.

“I think it’s really thrilling,” she said. “People really respond to matching grants. It’s good to know that if you give $10, that it really means $20 to us.”

The children’s theatre signed a contract with the McCormick Foundation and have been given the go-ahead to move forward with the process.

They have 12 months to raise $25,000 on their own. Once that has been accomplished they will be able to access the additional $25,000 in grant funds.

The theatre is planning a phone campaign as well as letters and a direct appeal to raise the money.

Whidbey Children’s Theatre is going to use the $25,000 they raise on their own to retire previous debts accumulated when the facility was built.

“This grant specifically isn’t about Whidbey Children’s Theatre as much as it is about this venue,” Juve said.

When those involved with the theatre went to the community in hopes of creating the theatre, Juve said they let community members know that no matter what happens to WCT as an organization, the venue still has value. “We don’t plan on drying up and blowing away, but should that happen, this venue will stay very, very busy,” she said.

The children’s theatre keeps the venue active, but other community groups have used the space as well.

“The venue has varied uses,” Juve said. “We keep it busy most of the time, but when it’s idle there’s any number of things that go on.”

She said groups such as the Island Arts Council and the South Whidbey Chamber of Commerce have used the space.

“We’re absolutely thrilled that when we told the community a year ago that the space would be busy, busy, busy, we really were accurate in predicting just how busy it can be.”

“I think it’s agreed universally that it’s a great venue. But we would like to care of the remaining debt,” Juve said. “And I think the people who have invested in it to this point are really proud of that investment.”

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