Bellevue Youth Theatre Foundation Programs
BYT is a recreational theatre program that addresses the needs and interests of young people who may be “underserved” by other Eastside community theatre and school programs. The only requirement is the willingness to participate: no one is “cut” and everyone has the opportunity to be part of the team—whether as an actor or in a technical role—in every production. Each year BYT produces 12 family oriented plays that embrace 900 acting and 300 non-acting roles, performed to 10,000 audience members, and depend upon 21,500 volunteer hours. These participant numbers will double when BYT’s new theatre opens. To meet the needs of its younger children, BYT also offers summer camps. Its theatre is located in the Crossroads area, one of the Eastside’s most economically and culturally diverse neighborhoods. By enabling those whose backgrounds, interests or opportunities might otherwise have excluded from participating in artistic experiences, BYT builds a stronger and deeper base of future arts patrons and performers.
Consistent with its goal of helping develop the Eastside arts community, the BYT facility is made available as performance, rehearsal and incubator space to a variety of arts groups. Once BYT has its new theatre, this service will greatly expand as the existing facility will be available to these groups year round. The new BYT theatre will incorporates an outdoor performance space that increases access to theatre arts for park-goers and other casual visitors.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
Bellevue Youth Theatre has grown steadily, and continues to serve more and more Eastside youth and adults, including those with disabilities, performing to mostly sold-out houses. But the real measure of success is in the stories of individuals whose young lives were shaped in a positive direction by their involvement in the program. Some move on to careers in the arts, others in business or education, while still others continue to be involved as mentors to other young people.
The challenge of growth is being met by the construction of a new theatre in Crossroads Park in Bellevue. The new facility will mirror the inventive spirit of BYT, utilizing an innovative building concept custom designed to meet the needs of the diverse BYT participants and of the Eastside community. This exemplary structure is literally integrated within the park, utilizing low impact design and green building concepts. The BYT Foundation has committed to raise $1.2 million, which combined with the City of Bellevue’s $6.8 million commitment will pay for the new theatre. While this capital campaign is a challenge in the current economic environment, the strong support of the City of Bellevue and its citizens underlines the value of this project to the community. Our challenge is to generate sufficient business, private and philanthropic support to complete the project.
Contributions to help build the new theatre are a critical need.