Over the next few months, the Northshore Performing Arts Foundation (NPAF) will prepare for the 2022-2023 theater season, which begins in October.
All events take place at the Northshore Performing Arts Center at Bothell High School (BHS).
“We are what some would call a road theatre. We bring tours to town,” said NPAF President Leslie Foley.
Foley said some popular events from last season include “The Shirtless Violinist,” “The Nutcracker,” “Magician Nash Fung,” and “Rise Up.”
The NPAF likes to include a variety of different events like reading theatre, comedy shows, children’s theatre, concerts and many other types of performances.
One of the constant shows and community favorites is “The Nutcracker,” Foley said. This year, she says, they’re trying to bring the live band back. It’s always fun for kids and adults to watch in the orchestra pit, she added.
Foley said people in the community wanted to see local theater, but the NPAF was unable to show its own productions. The foundation rents the theater from the Northshore School District (NSD) for one night a week. Therefore, there wouldn’t be enough time for rehearsals, set-up and take-down, and performances.
However, the NPAF got involved in the community by presenting events like “Dancing with the Northshore Stars”, which featured a local football coach, police chief and many others.
The NPAF will host a Sponsorship Night at Woodhouse Wine Estates on July 28, where potential sponsors can enjoy wine and appetizers while learning about the upcoming season of events as well as opportunities to support the arts.
Foley said the events of the 2022-23 season will be made public shortly after the sponsorship night.
As a result of the pandemic, she said, the foundation nearly shut down after its 2020-21 virtual season. But then a grant was received that saved them from closing, Foley said.
“Theaters still haven’t recovered and are still not operating at full capacity as they once could,” Foley said.
Additionally, ticket prices only cover about 60% of performers’ fees, Foley said. There are still production costs and marketing costs to consider.
As a result, the NPAF is seeking show sponsors to offset theater costs. The different sponsorship levels range from $1,000 to $5,000, she said.
According to its website, the NPAF believes in “enriching cultural appreciation” and engaging the local community through “creative educational programs and opportunities to experience and appreciate the performing arts. “.
Foley said one of the ways the NPAF demonstrates its mission is to provide a $3,500 scholarship to a senior graduate who plans to go to college with a career in the performing arts.
This year, the scholarship recipient went to BHS graduate Sawyer Whitson, who is attending the University of Washington Bothell in the fall.
The NPAF also invests in the community through its Youth Enrichment Program (YEP), she said. Before COVID, the foundation provided free programs for children in NSD elementary schools.
The program provided opportunities for elementary-aged children to engage in the performing arts while learning educational content in an entertaining way, Foley said.
The NPAF was founded by a group of citizens from Bothell and Northshore in 1996. They wanted to build a performing arts center similar to the Fifth Avenue and Paramount theaters, she said.
At first, the foundation tried to raise money to build a theater, she said, but they underestimated the cost of such a project. Meanwhile, NSD was remodeling BHS to include a performing arts centre.
NPAF saw this opportunity and made a deal with NSD to lease the theater in return for their contributions, Foley said.
“The Northshore Performing Arts Foundation donated $2.5 million to make improvements to the [BHS] facility, including a state-of-the-art sound system, orchestra pit with elevator, and upgraded theater seating,” according to the NPAF website.
For more than 20 years, Foley has been involved with the NPAF as a volunteer, board member and president. She served as president for five years and plans to retire soon, she said.
Foley has been involved in theater and acting all her life, she said. Her mother was an actress and her father a film agent. One thing she loves about acting is the different people she meets and interacts with at each event, she said.
“I love that by doing a community play you can work with a 10-year-old man and a 79-year-old man and you’re all working together for the same goal,” Foley said.
Going forward, Foley plans to continue publicizing the NPAF. She said many people are unaware the foundation exists because of its affiliation with NSD and location at BHS.
“Although we’ve been performing shows in Bothell since 2006, I meet people who don’t know us all the time,” Foley said.
Additionally, Foley said she hopes to build the foundation’s board, attract a younger audience, and bring in a Native American dance group to honor the land on which NPAF performs.
“A great night out would be wine tasting in Woodinville, dinner somewhere between Woodinville and Bothell…then ending your night seeing a great show at the theater,” Foley said.