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Culture Works, the nonprofit regional arts agency that represents many of the cultural organizations and activities in the Dayton region, has awarded grants totaling $433,250 to local arts organizations for the 2013-2014 funding year.

The Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, which applied for the first time as a single organization, received the largest grant of $256,200. That organization now represents the Dayton Ballet, Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra.

Other nonprofits receiving grants ranging from $30,000 to $50,000 include Cityfolk, the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, the Human Race Theatre Company and Muse Machine. The Bach Society of Dayton, Dayton Visual Arts Center, K-12 Gallery for Young People and the Kettering Children’s Choir will all receive grants in amounts between $1,500 and $6,000.

According to Culture Works president/CEO Martine Meredith Collier, the total grantmaking budget for this year is lower by $163,041 due to decreased donations from corporate and foundation funding to the organization’s united art fund program in 2013. MeadWestvaco, a longtime supporter of Culture Works announced last year that their 2012 gifts to all Dayton arts organizations would be their last. In 2011 and 2012, Culture Works was the beneficiary of $100,000 in matching grant funding from the Toulmin Fund of the Dayton Foundation.

Collier said workplace giving for the most part remained steady. The star workplace giving location was Montgomery County, employees increased their support this year by 61 percent.

Local Actress, Virginia Garcia, Dies

The theater community was saddened to learn of the death of Virginia Garcia on June 25. A popular community theater actress for decades and a founding member of the Youth at Heart Players, Virginia was inducted into the Dayton Theatre Hall of Fame in 2002. She was 94.

Presenting her award was Fran Pesch, who first met Virginia, when both were working on the first FutureFest at the Dayton Playhouse in 1991. Pesch directed Virginia in her last seven performances, including her last show “The Whales of August” in 2006.

“In describing Virginia – I think of words such as lovable and feisty,” says Pesch. “She was a beloved person and a theatrical treasure. She was always the first one “off book” — having her lines pretty well memorized before the first rehearsal, so she wouldn’t have to shuffle through a bunch of pages during rehearsals.”

It was during rehearsals of “Waiting in the Wings,” Pesch relates, that Virginia learned she would no longer be able to drive due to vision problems.

“It was then that life imitated art — my husband, Jerry, became Virgina’s driver to and from rehearsals for several years – real life Hoke and Daisy! (Garcia had played Daisy in ‘Driving Miss Daily.’) “Because of Virginia’s vision problems, we had her scripts enlarged so she could read them. “

Visitation for Virginia Garcia is this afternoon from 2-5 p.m. at Reis Legacy Center Meyer-Boehmer Chapel, 6661 Clyo Road, Centerville.

Free Arts Calendar Available

The handy and useful arts publication published annually by James Free Jewelers, “Celebrate the Arts,” is now available in a 2013-2014 edition.

It’s the ninth time the store has published a free guide to the arts in Southwest Ohio. The glossy magazine, which focuses on Cincinnati and Dayton, has a comprehensive list of upcoming events and short stories on a number of arts organizations.    The cover of this year’s edition features singer Tony Bennett who will be on stage Aug. 25 at Fraze Pavilion in Kettering. Other featured organizations include Dayton Contemporary Dance Company; the Dayton Art Institute; the Cincinnati Symphony, which is welcoming new Artistic Director Louis Langrée; and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

The 48-page publication is available at James Free Jewelers stores in Cincinnati (9555 Main St.; 7875 Montgomery Road) and Dayton (3100 Far Hills Ave). After July 10 you can also visit and ask that a copy be mailed to you.

Free Shakespeare Presents “As You Like It”

We’ve just learned that this will be the final year for the popular Free Shakespeare outdoor summer series. Its talented and energetic creator Chris Shea will be moving back to Seattle where he’s landed a role with a new theater company there.

“A good friend that I worked with while out west has started a new theatre company ( and I am moving back to play Ken Tally in ‘The Fifth of July’ by Lanford Wilson,” says Shea, who returned to Dayton four years ago to help take care of his dad who was ill.

“He died in December of ‘10, and his birthday is July 5,” says Shea. ” It’s like he’s smiling down on me and letting me know that the time is right for me to move on.” He plans to start Free Shakespeare in Seattle.

Here’s the upcoming schedule for the final summer production of “As You Like It.” All shows begin at 7 p.m. and are free.

July 18 & 25: Rosewood Arts Center, Kettering

July 19-21: ArtStreet Amphitheater, UD

July 26-28: Newcom Founder’s Park, Oregon Historic District (the gazebo)

Aug 1 & 8: Blommel Park, South Park Historic District

Aug 2-4: Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, Dayton

Aug 9-11: Antioch College Amphitheater, Yellow Springs

“Made in the USA” to Screen at The Neon

A 90-minute documentary focusing on the rise and fall of manufacturing in the United States will be seen at The Neon movie theater in downtown Dayton at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 11. The show is being presented by Made in the USA Films and American Pi, the little store that’s just a block from the theater and sells American products.

In the 90-minute documentary, filmmaker Josh Miller attempts to live off USA-made products for 90 days.

The Neon is located at 130 East Fifth St., Dayton.

“The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show” to be held July 12

Oral Funk Poetry Productions will present”The Signature: A Poetic Medley Show” from 9 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 12, at The Loft Theatre, 126 N. Main St. in Dayton.

The variety show will incorporate live music, spoken word, poetry and dance, visual arts and comedy. “Poetic Soul Fusion,” will feature spoken word poets Jessica Care Moore and Cola Rum, along with a live band performing R&B and jazz with a neo-soul twist.

Moore is a poet, playwright, performance artist and producer who has performed her poems and solo theater shows throughout the United States and Europe and in South Africa. She is a five-time Showtime at the Apollo winner.

Atlanta-based spoken word poet Cola Rum has appeared on BET’s Lyric Cafeand has lectured on creative writing at universities throughout the nation. Emcee is William Evans.

Tickets are $20 and are available by calling (937) 228-3630 or online at This production is a partnership with the University of Dayton’s ArtStreet and the Wesley Community Center in Dayton.

Zoot Holds Auditions

Zoot Theater will be holding auditions for its upcoming season from 8:30 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 13, at the Dayton Art Institute. The theater is also looks for actors for other shows such as the in-school tours.

Actors are paid, commensurate with experience and the role in which one is cast.

To sign-up and schedule, call Dawn Roth-Smitcompany manager, at (937) 684-5228 or

Vandalia Children’s Theatre Stages Summer Shows

Children from 17 different school districts in our area have had fun participating in Vandalia Youth Theatre live productions. The group has been staging shows since 1991.

The shows are presented at Northridge High School Auditorium, 2251 Timber Lane in Northridge.

The troupe will present “Fiddler on the Roof Jr.” and “The Trial of the Big Bad Wolf” at 7 p.m. July 12 and 13, and at 2 p.m. on July 14, 20 and 21. They will also be presenting “Ragtime” at 7 p.m. on July 19, 20, 26, 27 and at 2 p.m. on July 28.

Sign language interpretation will be available at the July 14 production.

Tickets, available at the door, are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $5 for students. For more information, check out

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