Something Rotten (Lights Up! Theatre Company photo)

Noozhawk is teaming up with local nonprofits to encourage you to give back to your community.

It is no secret that these past couple of years have been full of challenges and thats why local nonprofits need your support now more than ever. Our Good for Santa Barbara Nonprofit Section provides all the resources you need to donate to worthy causes!

In this interview, Noozhawk spoke with Amy Love, Artistic Director of Lights Up! Theatre Company, to learn more about how the nonprofit is dedicated to supporting local teens pursuit of the performing arts. Lights Up! Theatre Company offers community members, ages 12-19, the opportunity to study theatre professionally and build a like-minded tribe.

Lights Up! Theatre Company

Question: What is the name & mission of your nonprofit?

Answer: Lights Up! Theatre Company – A performance conservatory that provides professional training, personal growth, and a like-minded tribe for local teen actors aged 12-19.

Q: How long has your nonprofit been in service and whom was it started by?

A: Our nonprofit was formed six years ago by current Artistic Director, Amy Love, and Co-founders Jen Gamble and Jenna Berg.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your nonprofit?

Into The Woods (Lights Up! Theatre Company photo)

A: The inspiration to start Lights Up! Came from a magical meeting of the minds of Love, Gamble and Berg who share a love for live theatre and sought to fill a gap in the diversity of theatrical training opportunities in Santa Barbara.

Q: How is your nonprofit primarily funded and what are your greatest needs?

A: Our nonprofit is funded by company member tuition and ticket sales from our productions. However, this income in itself is not enough to cover the cost associated with operations so the rest of our financial needs are met with donations, grants, and sponsorships. Our greatest need is a long-term rehearsal space that we can call a home. Lights Up! has benefitted by very generous organizations that have provided affordable rehearsal space. However, we are in need of a long-term and more permanent location for the years to come. Our greatest financial need is for our scholarship fund that supports our ability to provide high quality performance art training experience to all qualified teens.

Q: In what ways does your nonprofit utilize it’s funding?

A: Funding directly pays for the salaries of our teachers and hired local professional artists, as well as our rehearsal and performance spaces, and the costs associated with mounting three productions each year.

Q: What types of fundraisers and/or programs does your nonprofit run?

A: Prior to Covid, Lights Up! hosted an annual fundraiser to bridge the gap needed to execute productions. Specific programs were established to focus on key needs – such as an auction to benefit scholarship funds, a live auction to raise money for needed equipment, etc. Since Covid, we have primarily run season sponsorship opportunities for individuals and businesses in the community who are generous to support our efforts. We’re exploring new fundraising ideas for our current Season 6!

Q: How do people get involved/volunteer for your nonprofit?

A: Lights Up! Is a highly energetic and constantly evolving organization with many ways for people to get involved. We count parent volunteers as part of our extended family to help us execute the culmination of our training program – our production. Historically, many members of the extended community have donated their time and expertise in many elements of the productions – costumes, set building, ushering, etc. We also work with student volunteers who can work in our costume shop and backstage to earn community service hours.

Q: What makes your nonprofit different from others?

A: Our nonprofit is unique to Santa Barbara because it is the only professional level performing arts program that is modeled like a true theatre company. All members of the community are invited to audition and upon acceptance to the company, choose which programs they want to participate in, whether in a performance environment or at our conservatory level. Our conservatory level provides classroom core training to build upon, with a small showcase at the session’s end. Company members at both levels become part of a tight-knit community and benefit from special offerings such as visiting professional workshops and informal field trips to other theatres.

Q: Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?

The Music Man (Lights Up! Theatre Company photo)

A: We are so gratified to have been there for our actors both in challenging times (pandemic) and at the right time to light that fire of passion for the theater. A number of our actors have gone on to study theater professionally, and they attribute that choice in large part to their experience with us. During the pandemic, teens were isolated, facing the fears and uncertainties of the world without the support of their friends. Lights Up! stayed open, first on zoom and then made the decision to mount two productions, one filmed in a studio, and one outdoor live performance. The experience of being able to connect with friends, doing something they loved, had a profound positive effect on the mental health of our community. Multiple parents made a point of telling us that Lights Up! was the only bright spot in their actor’s life during that year, and we know it made a huge difference to many.

Q: Why should donors trust your organization and are there other ways to help outside of donations?

A: All of our donations go directly to targeted needs, whether it is a capital campaign for tangible necessities, such as microphones, or for our scholarship program (which is large proportionate to our size) and we are current and compliant with all 501c3 reporting and record keeping.

Q: Can you tell us one short-term goal AND one long-term goal that your nonprofit has for the next year?

A: One short term goal is to beef up our social media presence so that we can spread the word about our company; and a long term goal is to find a permanent home.

Click here to support the Lights Up! Theatre Company’s mission to offer local teens a professional level performing arts program. 

Check out Noozhawk’s Guide to Giving for a full list of nonprofits to donate to.