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California Center for the Arts, Escondido Foundation, CCAE Theatricals Inc. announce formation of independent nonprofit organization

ESCONDIDO – California Center for the Arts, Escondido Foundation and CCAE Theatricals Inc. announced the transition of the former, in-house theatrical producing program known as CCAE Theatricals into an independent nonprofit organization. The Dorris Staples Theatrical Conservatory program for aspiring theater professionals will be housed under CCAE Theatricals Inc.

“We are thrilled to witness the establishment of CCAE Theatricals as an independent organization,” Sara Matta, board president of California Center for the Arts, Escondido Foundation, said. “This move represents our unwavering commitment to advancing the performing arts and reinforces our belief in the power of theater to inspire, educate and advance society. We are confident that CCAE Theatricals will flourish in its new capacity and are excited we are able to continue to support them as they enrich the cultural landscape of Escondido and the greater region.”

The challenges of the pandemic and post-pandemic climate created financial impacts for the artistic industry. The CCAEF said it looked to adopt more sustainable models and made the decision to simultaneously remove CCAE Theatricals from being an in-house program while also offering the support of becoming a separate entity and the Resident Theater of CCAEF. CCAE Theatricals said it looked forward to a close partnership with the CCAEF.

“Over the years, the California Center for the Arts, Escondido Foundation has served as a cultural beacon, nurturing artistic talent and fostering creativity through its diverse range of programs and events,” Gina Lopez, CEO of the CCAEF said. “Among its many successes was the addition of CCAE Theatricals as an in-house theater company which has since earned acclaim for its world-class performances and award-winning original productions. As the demand for high-quality theatrical experiences continued to grow, the decision to establish CCAE Theatricals as an independent entity came naturally. This transition will allow CCAE Theatricals to pursue its artistic vision with increased flexibility, efficiency and creative freedom.”

The CCAEF staff who have transitioned over to the new CCAE Theatricals Inc. included Julianna Crespo as executive director, J. Scott Lapp as artistic director, Jordan Beck as managing producer and Tom Abruzzo as director of education and engagement.

“This transition signals a bright, new chapter for our mission driven work,” according to CCAE Theatricals Inc. “We are grateful to all of the donors, grantors, patrons and supporters who have been an instrumental part of every story we have been privileged to tell from the stage. We especially thank the David T. and Dorris E. Staples Foundation, the Irving Z. and Anne D. Siegel Foundation, and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido Charitable Trust. This transition creates the opportunity for focused strategic planning with an emphasis on equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility, while building upon the groundwork laid by the California Center for the Arts, Escondido Foundation. We are committed to listening and responding to the needs of our community and industry. We are united in our drive to embrace transformative thinking and practices – imbued with anti-racist value systems and the amplification of under-represented perspectives. We look forward to sharing our exciting next steps very soon, including a board recruitment process, new website, and donor events.”

CCAE Theatricals, previously The Barn Stage Company, began partnering with the CCAEF in 2018 on programming. In February 2020, the board of CCAEF unanimously voted to acquire the organization and create an in-house theatrical producing arm of CCAEF. Between 2020 and 2023, these in-house productions earned praise from theater critics and won four awards from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. These awards included Best New Production and Best Director to J. Scott Lapp for the original commissioned production of “Witnesses” in July 2022. In July 2023, CCAE Theatricals produced another world premiere musical, “Bottle Shock! The Musical.”

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Submitted by California Center for the Arts, Escondido.


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