Transformation Starts With You
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Charlottesville, VA 22902
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Stories of Transformation
"This is why I love Live Arts"
Click here to read Ckalib's story!
Ckalib Nelson is a shy, data-driven guy who found his “home away from home” as an audience member. He helped his best friend run lines and then saw him perform in RAGTIME. This stirred something in Ckalib. "Live Arts is a majestic experience. This is what change looks like. This is how stories ought to be told. This is why I love Live Arts."
Ckalib says that without Live Arts, something inside him is missing. He can’t bear to miss an opening night and even buys a second subscription to bring someone new to every show.
As a Board member, Ckalib learned first-hand that running Live Arts isn’t cheap. Royalties alone approach $20,000 a year. In fact, it takes $1 million a year to run our nonprofit theater. Ticket sales and tuition cover less than half. The rest comes from theater lovers like you.
"Theater has taught me to be in the moment"
Click here to read Kerry's story!
Like most Live Arts volunteers, Kerry Moran started small, taping sets and painting black. As she got to know us, she took on more challenging projects, constantly stepping out of her comfort zone.
“There was an assumption that I could do extraordinary things—and the trust that I would. I appreciate that about Live Arts. It’s exhilarating to be part of, no matter what role you play.”
An architect by profession, Kerry has served as director, actor, and designer of everything from sets to props, from costumes to entire galas.
“People think of me as a fixture at Live Arts, but I try to approach every project like it’s new. Theater has taught me to be in the moment, to be flexible. I try to apply this outlook to everything I do.”
Kerry is just one of hundreds of big dreamers who turn imagination into transformative theatrical experiences for our community.
It takes $1 million a year to fuel those dreams, with less than half coming from ticket sales and tuition. To fully fund our mission, we rely on the generosity of dreamers like you to close the gap.
My son was "accepted, loved, and valued"
Click here to read Lily's story!
As a volunteer-powered theater in the heart of Charlotesville, Live Arts aspires to be a welcoming home for all stories and storytellers. And hams.
“My son Vlado has always been a ham, but his experience as a Live Arts camper led him to become more self-confident and self-loving,” says Lily Garcia-Walton.
“His time at Live Arts meant being accepted, loved, and valued for who he is.”
Like so many young artists, “Vlado is a spirited, quirky, and creative person who yearns for connection. In typical groups of kids, he can become alienated because of his differences, but the Live Arts community welcomed him with open arms and held up a mirror that showed him he is loveable just as he is.”
This is just one story of transformation that defines Live Arts. Your gift paves the way for so many more. It takes $1 million dollars a year to run our nonprofit theater. About half is covered by camp tuition and ticket sales. The rest comes from theater lovers like you.
"We're all the cast of Charlottesville"
Click here to read Eric's story!
Eric Ramírez-Weaver recalls the transformational journey we have all taken over the last three years.
“When theaters shuttered during COVID-19, Live Arts turned tragedy into fecund creative opportunity. My entire family participated in [the digital production of] LET GO OF ME, which was one of the most special memories of our life together.
My daughter Olivia’s celebration of youthful defiance in the cascade of paper was transformative for her as a performer. My wife Liz and I also enjoyed working hand-in-hand on the show, bringing to life the playwright’s vision when so many lights in the world had dimmed.
When the lights once again illuminated the stage, I resumed acting in ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST. Live Arts made [the transition to live theater] possible in expansive, unforeseeable ways. Susan Evans' innovative approach to staging and blocking literally pushed me to the edge, but always brought me back to my acting center.”
For Eric, Live Arts is a living celebration. “Living stories restore what is lost. We’re all the cast of Charlottesville, and Live Arts is a hub for the best our community can be.”
It takes $1 million a year to sustain this theatrical hub, with only 50% coming from ticket sales and tuition. Your gift will help us close our income gap and keep the stage lights burning brightly well into the next year.
"Theater is play"
Click here to read Gretchen's story!
Gretchen York, our gracious facilitator of Live Arts Readers’ Circle, ponders what Live Arts means to each of us in our community.
“I never expected to be at the helm of a play-reading initiative, though in hindsight it is exactly the sort of thing I always wanted to do. Theater is a space for experimentation, for hard conversations, for expanding our sense of what is possible for ourselves and our community. I'm never anything but terrified. But I'm also completely delighted, because the theater is also play. Where else can you step so fully out of your comfort zone—and yet be so safe?
I believe that Live Arts, as a community-led organization, offers an opportunity to transform the way that we think about theater—by treating it as a social good rather than a commodity. Readers' Circle is very much part of that process for me. Our members come together to make art by themselves and for themselves, a process that stands outside of normative ideas about what a theater production can or should be.
It is a privilege to witness our group fearlessly read on the fly, and the process can transform the way I understand a play. As I listen to the moments of insight and empathy our readers achieve, my relationship to our little community transforms. I see and newly appreciate each individual's talents, and I marvel at our collective ability to make something great.”
Interested in joining Readers' Circle? You can reach Gretchen at email@example.com for more information about the group.
"Live Arts brought us here"
Click here to read Rachel's story!
Stories of transformation happen every day at Live Arts, but few are as life-changing as The Pie Chest owner Rachel Pennington’s story about long-distance romance and the lure of great theater.
“The first time I took the Amtrack from Trenton to Charlottesville, Tina, my partner, had purchased tickets to Live Arts to see IN THE BLOOD, directed by Clinton Johnston with Aisha Moore in the lead role. It was tremendous and breathtaking. The theater was an intimate space, the acting raw. We had an incredible experience as a couple during that play.
When it ended, neither of us wanted the night to be over, so we ventured to the Downtown Mall together. We heard sounds of laughter, life, and music up the street and followed the bricks that may as well have been yellow, leading us to Oz. That night, something shifted within us, a draw, a call to make this place our own."
"When we opened The Pie Chest in 2014, it was the blooming of a seed, two streets over from where it began, in a small theater where human beings poured out their souls on a stage. We will always credit Live Arts with bringing us here. It is part of the ethos of what makes Charlottesville beautiful.”
We hope that ethos inspires you to support Live Arts. As you may know, it takes $1 million a year to make theater that has the power to transforms lives – on the stage and off. Less than half of our funding comes from ticket sales and tuition. The rest comes from theater champions like you.
"I didn't realize I'd have so much fun"
Click here to read Becky's story!
Here’s why sound designer Becky Brown is incredibly grateful to be welcomed into the Live Arts extended family.
“When I started doing sound design at Live Arts in 2021, I didn't realize I'd have so much fun! Working with four different production teams meant meeting a diverse bunch of talented designers. Getting to know them through production meetings and tech weekends was always a highlight, as the other volunteers involved with these shows are diverse in every direction.”
Becky took on sound design for our first live show after the pandemic, EVERY BRILLIANT THING. In quick succession, she followed with PIPELINE, ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST, AND LOVE AND INFORMATION in 2022. Each experience helped her grow as an artist and feel more connected.
“Creating the sound design for these shows has allowed me to think differently than I normally would when making sound-based art. The folks at Live Arts feel a bit like extended family, honestly, and I am incredibly grateful.”
Becky is one of hundreds of volunteer artists who has discovered an extended family at Live Arts. It takes $1 million a year to fully fund this special place. Less than half is covered by ticket sales and tuition. The rest comes from grants and individual theater lovers like you. We invite you to help us close our remaining $280,000 income gap by making a new gift in 2023.
"Live Arts made C'ville feel like home"
Click here to read Scott's story!
"My story of transformation began with Live Arts in the fall of 2019. My wife Susan and I had just moved to Charlottesville from Long Island, NY. Being life-long New Yorkers, moving to a small town like C’ville was a bold step for us—leaving behind family, friends, and all the cultural activities that New York City has to offer, including Broadway.
We were fortunate to meet some great people when we arrived. One of them was Larry Goldstein, who invited us to see him perform in a Live Arts production of THE HUMANS. My initial reaction was not one of enthusiasm. I must admit my New York snobbery came to the surface despite all my attempts to stifle it. I said to myself, “Really, he wants me to sit through a bunch of amateurs at a community theater production? This surely won’t be Broadway!”
Thankfully, Susan convinced me to give it a try, and off we went to watch our first Live Arts show. I am thrilled to share that THE HUMANS was spectacular—the acting was extraordinary, the set design was amazing, and I was transformed from a Broadway snob to a Live Arts enthusiast.
Since that introduction to Live Arts, we have missed only one show, we have met many wonderful people, we connected more deeply with the Charlottesville community, and I was eventually invited to serve on the theater’s Board of Directors.
Live Arts has played a pivotal role in helping Charlottesville feel like home for Susan and me, and helped transform us from New Yorkers to Virginians. We will forever be grateful to Live Arts for providing us with a sense of community, especially during the pandemic. I look forward to many more provocative and entertaining productions and to meeting more members of the Charlottesville community through Live Arts.
I hope you will join me in supporting Live Arts by making a charitable contribution. As you may know, it takes $1 million a year to make theater that has the power to transforms lives – on the stage and off. As a nonprofit organization, less than half of our funding comes from ticket sales and tuition. The rest comes from theater enthusiast like you and me. Please help Live Arts continue its mission of forging theater and community.
“It continues to be a wonderful ride”
Click here to read Fran's story!
“As the doors opened on Market Street in 1990, my Live Arts journey began. This fledgling theater transformed itself from infancy, to terrible twos, to adolescence, and now adulthood right before my eyes,” says Fran Smith, one of seven Live Arts founders and our first artistic director.
“We seven created a creative home for the community, and I was fortunate to witness it all,” she reflects.
“Live Arts has been a vehicle for me to further develop my craft and grow my theater skills. I have touched and been touched by so many over the years—whether as a director, an actor, or a scene shop volunteer painting sets.
“I began my Live Arts journey at 42. Today, at 75, I’ve had so many experiences and stories that have fulfilled my life. Aging is a transformation in itself, but my theatrical spirit is forever young. I’d like to leave a very small part of myself as my legacy some day. It continues to be a wonderful ride. As my dear friend Howard Pape used to ask after a build:
“Are you happy, Frannie?”
“Yes, Howard, I’m very happy.”
Please join me in supporting Live Arts by making a gift that is meaningful to you. It takes $1 million a year to make theater that has the power to transforms lives. As a nonprofit organization, less than half of our funding comes from ticket sales and tuition. The rest comes from theater lovers like you and me. Thanks to your gift, Live Arts will continue its mission of forging theater and community. For that, we are grateful."
"I started as a kid in camp"
Click here to read Etta's story!
Etta Feigert has been involved at Live Arts for as long as they can remember. After attending summer camps, they began helping out backstage for the teen summer musical PIPPIN in 2017. Since then, Etta has worked on countless productions—a list that includes every single show during our reIGNITE season!
Most recently, Etta served as the production stage manager for LOVE AND INFORMATION and a lighting programmer for our upcoming musical VIOLET. Beyond developing skills in technical theater, Etta says working on shows alongside their family has provided a place "to connect with my parents as people, not just my parents."
Etta invites you to be a part of future stories of transformation at Live Arts with a financial contribution.
"I have been able to learn so much from so many people. I still have a lot to learn (and always will). I can't wait for the next opening.”
"Theater helped me find who I am"
Click here to read Jean's story!
“Camps were always my favorite summer activity,” says Jean Edwards, a 17-year-old student at Charlottesville High School who loves theater and the people who make it.
“Through Live Arts, I was able to meet people who are just as passionate about theater as I am. I’m still friends with them today.”
Beyond the bonds of friendship, Live Arts “helped me learn more about myself,” says Jean. “I used to find it hard to connect with people, but theater helped me find who I am.”
Knowing who you are in the world is a big thing, especially when you’re young. So is running a $1 million nonprofit theater with a year-round education program and a full season of plays and musicals.
Did you know that less than half of our budget comes from camp tuition and ticket sales? The rest comes from people like you who believe in our mission of forging theater and community.
You can help us raise the $500,000 it will take to fully fund our mission this year. Your gift will make a world of difference to Jean and thousands of people we inspire each year.
"Individuals blossom at Live Arts"
Click here to read Will's story!
As a founder, Will Kerner partnered with his brother Thane in hosting a series of late night dance parties known as Acid Houses, which provided seed money for the early days of Live Arts. For Will, this harvest of time and talent grew into the 32-year-old theater that is now Live Arts.
“Creating a theater space with volunteer effort, I have felt the special nature of the community in which we live. Live Arts exists because this community wants and needs it. Individuals blossom at Live Arts, and I personally have grown in countless ways. Live Arts has been a remarkable journey.”
It takes $1 million a year to run this volunteer-powered theater. Just 50% is covered by ticket sales and tuition. The rest comes from grants and financial contributions from friends like you.
Will invites you to join him in closing our income gap by increasing, or even doubling, your annual gift. When we all work together, we WILL ensure that Live Arts thrives.
Live Arts is my "happy place"
Click here to read Amy's story!
Live Arts volunteers lead the way with their gifts of time, talent and creativity. Amy Goffman, costume designer extraordinaire for two decades, is an inspiring example.
“Twenty years ago, I walked into the old Michie building to buy tickets, and there was a volunteer fair going on. I impulsively signed up to help with costumes. I did a bit of sewing for a show, then assisted on costumes for AH,WILDERNESS. I was asked to design costumes for BURIED CHILD. With the encouragement of John Gibson, I learned the process of costuming from production meetings to design to fittings. My love of vintage clothing, sewing, and theater made Live Arts a happy place for me.
I jumped at the chance to costume ANGELS IN AMERICA, my favorite play, and have costumed one to three plays every year since. Every play I have done has offered the opportunity to be creative in a way that I enjoy with a product that I also enjoy.”
Amy is one of hundreds of volunteer artists who gives meaning to our mission of forging theater and community, one show at a time. You can join her by volunteering your creative talents or by making a financial gift to Live Arts before December 31. Your contribution ensures that Live Arts continues to be a happy place for Amy and the entire community for years to come.
It takes about $1 million a year to fully fund Live Arts. Less than half is covered by ticket sales and tuition, especially after the pandemic. The rest comes from generous theater lovers like you who sustain us.
"Live Arts provides a place for everyone"
Click here to read Bernie & Pat's story!
Live Arts champions Pat Simpson and Bernie Murphy bear witness to how our education program profoundly transforms our community.
“Realizing that Live Arts provides a place for everyone while emphasizing the importance of community resonated with me. Hearing unsolicited testimonials from volunteers, performers, and staff about the sense of inclusion that Live Arts brought to their life experience sold me on investing.
I have been fortunate to be a part of the education program and see young people in the community, some of whom would not have exposure to theater, be on stage. Meeting their families in the lobby after productions has been the most rewarding.”
“I stumbled upon the education program and the need for scholarships during a chance conversation at Live Arts. After attending performances, I realized the personal growth opportunities afforded to education program participants. I also suspected that there were families that were not aware of this opportunity, or thought it was out of their reach.
The lack of funds should not be a hurdle for the development of our children. We were fortunate to have the opportunity and the means to lower that hurdle and give more students the chance to thrive–not only in theater but in life.”
It takes $1 million a year to run Live Arts, with less than half covered by ticket sales and education fees. The rest, including scholarships, comes from youth advocates like Bernie and Pat. They invite you to join them in lowering the barrier to access by making a gift to Live Arts.
"I can't help but be changed by the process"
Click here to read Will's story!
Will Slusher began volunteering in 2008 as a set builder for IN THE BLOOD, eventually serving as scenic designer for eight shows and two galas. In many ways, he represents what it means to be transformed by Live Arts.
“When you say 'transformations,' I immediately think about the journey I go on with every show. I love that feeling of potential when I first step onto a blank stage and begin imagining what might be. I love watching as the space transforms, as all the different parts come together—building off each other, reinforcing each other, ultimately creating something new, unique, and alive. It’s something so much greater and more powerful than just the sum of its parts.
We always hope that the end result is moving and transformative for the audience. But I can't help but be changed by the process too—whether by learning a new skill, discovering more about a certain time or place, or finding a better understanding of the play through another person's voice and experience.”
We invite you to contemplate your own story of transformation—and match it with a gift. It takes $1 million a year to make this magic happen, with more than half of our funding coming from generous theater lovers like you. Your support ensures that gifted volunteers like Will can continue to create something new, unique, and alive every season.
“I went to Live Arts looking for community.”
Click here to read Jamie's story!
“I stopped acting in 2008 with no intention of getting back into it. After moving to Charlottesville in 2016, I went to Live Arts looking for community. I'd planned to be more involved on the technical side with no intention of auditioning for anything. After the next season was announced, I went home and read A DELICATE BALANCE. When I finished, I knew I wanted to play Claire. I hadn't felt that way about a role in decades.”
Jamie has played numerous roles at Live Arts, on stage and off. In 2017, she joined the crew of WELL as board co-operator and played Claire in A DELICATE BALANCE. She became a regular front-of-house volunteer and was cast in SEVEN HOMELESS MAMMOTHS, SWEAT, and most recently, PIPELINE.
“Since my first show at Live Arts, I have always counted on their professionalism. That's important because it creates a safe working space. It’s been vital for me as an artist to be able to create and work. I've also enjoyed attending Live Arts events, honoring the volunteers, announcing the season, and post-show talks. Live Arts has been a real part of my life and community during the six years we have lived here.”
Jamie is one of hundreds of volunteers who have walked into Live Arts in search of an artistic home. Your financial support ensures that Live Arts continues to be a welcoming home for all artists and storytellers.
“We are lucky to have Live Arts”
Click here to read Elaine's story!
Youth engagement is at the heart of what we do. Parents witness the positive impact every day, just like Elaine Cheng did with her daughter at our summer camps. Her daughter not only stretched her acting capabilities, but made new friends who are now "BFFs." Elaine values that Live Arts is affordable, accessible, and a treasure that can never really be fully appreciated.
Like most theaters in the country, Live Arts continues to deal with the lingering fallout from the pandemic. That means half houses, fewer volunteers, and rising costs—without a safety net. That concerns Elaine, who feels lucky that Live Arts is here and doesn’t take that for granted. “We, as citizens, can enjoy live theater of high quality in our small city,” says Elaine, who wants us to have the resources to fully fund our mission of “forging theater and community.”
It takes $1 million a year to run this volunteer-powered theater. Just 50% is covered by ticket sales and tuition. The rest comes from grants and financial contributions from friends like you.
Elaine invites you to join her family in closing our income gap with a gift to Live Arts. When we work together, every child who wants to participate in theater will have the opportunity with newfound confidence, a new skill, and a new friend added to the circle.
allows us to:
Engage volunteers in meaningful ways with minimal barriers to participate
Improve our physical space and technology
Attract and retain a devoted staff
Offer financial aid for all education programs
Be flexible and resourcesful in times of uncertainty
Hire talented teaching artists for classes, camps, and workshops
Maintain affordable ticket options
Collaborate with new partners who bring fresh perspectives, creativity, and stories
Invest time, energy, and resources to DEI training and endeavors
At Live Arts, there is no “average” donor. Hundreds of gifts of every size help create a strong foundation on which we forge theater and community. Just as our artistic and education programs are strengthened by diversity, so is our base of philanthropic support.
We invite you to join our family of supporters with a one-time, quarterly, or monthly gift. Visit our secure donation form, or contact us to learn more.
Interested in corporate sponsorship or philanthropy?
We create custom packages designed to fit your goals for community engagement, marketing, and hospitality. Currently seeking show sponsors, Pay-What-You-Can sponsors, and special event sponsors. Please contact our fundraising team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gift Acceptance Policy
We solicit and accept gifts that further our mission of forging theater and community. In pursuing a gift, we consider how it might benefit Live Arts in the most ethical manner possible, and how it supports our goals and priorities, including our commitment to advance social justice by dismantling the systems, policies, and practices that have perpetuated patterns of institutional and systemic racism.
We encourage unrestricted gifts that enable our Board and staff to be responsive to the evolving and rapidly changing needs of our community.
Our full Fundraising and Gift Acceptance Policy, including detailed criteria and our donor bill of rights, is available here.
Live Arts is registered to receive charitable contributions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. A financial statement is available from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services upon request.