Helping Kids Find Their Voices
Photography by Lance Moody – Mechanical Bug
After 13 years, 27 major productions and more than 35,000 tickets sold, The Children’s Theatre of Mason has not only made a name for itself in the community, it’s outgrown expectations and facility space.
Started in 2003 by a group of parents, the organization has grown exponentially since its flagship production used a cardboard set and felt costumes. The company regularly plays to a full house, makes all of their costumes and has engaged more than 1,500 local kids in the arts over the past 13 years.
But there’s still more they want to do. “We can’t even meet a quarter of the demand for children who want to participate with us,” says Kim Martin, a board member whose child has performed in the troupe for six years. “The performing facilities we currently use are only available to us for one week each season, and many organizations are attempting to use the same space.”
To accommodate the large demand to see and participate in the organization’s Broadway-quality performances, The Children’s Theatre of Mason is launching a major fundraising effort in 2016 to build a new performing arts facility on a five-acre plot of land on State Route 42 in Mason. This performing arts center would greatly enhance the organization’s ability to add new performers, produce more shows and provide expanded classes for the children of the region.
“There’s a large demand for the arts in Mason, and we’ve heard audience members come to our shows and say, ‘We feel like this is a Broadway production and we want to be able to attend shows here in Mason and not have to drive downtown,’ ” says Karen Kilgore, president of the board of directors and production manager for The Children’s Theatre of Mason. “Our goal is to build a facility that will meet this need that we can fund and run efficiently. As a nonprofit, we’re here to deliver an arts experience to kids and families who wouldn’t otherwise have that opportunity.”
Currently, the organization teaches several different classes and workshops in addition to putting on two performances a year. With this much happening, it’s clear to see why The Children’s Theatre of Mason is in need of a facility that will support everything they do. But the organization isn’t just producing professional-level performances – they’re helping kids find their voices and grow. Performing builds confidence, especially at a young age, and immerses a child in a different culture than one they may experience in school or at home. It challenges boundaries and shows them the importance of working together.
“One thing that sets us apart is not just the talent – we have great talent – but when people come to The Children’s Theatre of
Mason, it’s like they find a connection with us,” says Kilgore. “They find something that they haven’t found before … What I think is unique is that behind the scenes these kids become a family. And they bond. They go out to eat and they do things together. And when that show comes, they encourage each other, lift each other up and pull together to give a performance that exceeds our expectations.”
The Children’s Theatre of Mason works hard to engage and encourage children from all over Greater Cincinnati – they don’t need to live in Mason to participate. Once the new performing arts center is built, the space will also be available to other organizations and groups in the region, better enhancing the community’s access to the arts. Fundraising will begin in January to gather resources for the project.
The Children’s Theatre of Mason is located at 308 West Main Street, Mason, OH 45040. You can reach them at 513.398.0116 or visit their website at www.CTM-Kids.com.