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July 24, 2001

For More Information, Contact:
Jamille Moens at (916) 651-4011


SACRAMENTO - Assemblyman Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) announced today that his proposed $300,000 in state funding to upgrade the sound and lighting systems at the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre is included in the recently adopted State budget.  The funding proposed by Simitian has already been approved by the State Legislature – “a good start” says Simitian – and now goes to Governor Gray Davis, who will have 12 days to either approve or deny the funding once it reaches his desk.

“The Children’s Theatre provides tremendous recreational and creative opportunities for kids in our area,” said Simitian.  “And for many youngsters, the Children’s Theatre is the beginning of a lifelong appreciation of the arts.  I’m pleased at this opportunity to help modernize the theatre’s sound and lighting.  These systems haven’t been replaced in over 20 years.”

The Children’s Theatre began in 1932.  It produces an average of 20 plays annually and has an annual audience of approximately 37,000.  The funds that Simitian proposed will, if approved by the Governor, be used to upgrade the sound and lighting systems from analog to digital.  The current systems have experienced increasingly frequent and costly equipment failures. 

“We’re thrilled at the possibility we may be able to improve our services, not only for the young people who participate in our programs but for the audiences as well,” said Patricia Briggs, Director of the Children’s Theatre.  “State funding would help us modernize the facility and create a better experience for everyone involved.”
The Children’s Theatre is the only theater of its type between the Oregon border and San Diego.  The Children’s Theatre has gained world acclaim as a model for theaters by and for young people, and has included radio, television, film and video programming among its offerings.

“Over the years,” notes Linda Zlotnik, President of the Friends of the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre, “local businesses, residents and foundations have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to supplement the City’s ongoing support, but we can’t do it alone.  This effort by Assemblyman Simitian is tremendously helpful.”

Simitian was himself a Children’s Theatre participant in the 1960’s, and has been a long-time supporter of the program.  In 1995, as Mayor of Palo Alto, Simitian championed a $100,000 challenge grant by the City which leveraged more than $600,000 in private contributions for construction of the Theatre’s Magic Castle outdoor stage.

“My support for State funding,” noted Simitian, “is based on my view that the Theatre is a truly unique regional resource.”  Simitian also noted, “In addition to the Theatre’s obvious significance in the development of the performing arts, it provides an increasingly important source of wholesome recreation for kids from 8 to 18-plus.  It’s a place where every kid belongs, where no one gets left out, where kids can develop a sense of belonging.”

Simitian encourages local residents who support the funding to let the Governor know of their support.  Letters may be addressed to:

Honorable Gray Davis
Governor, State of California
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

City of Palo Alto, Children’s
Theatre Sound and Light Systems
Department: California Arts Council
Budget Item No.: 8260-101-0001


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