With theaters remaining closed under governor’s order, in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, creativity has been a spark, to bring in funds to support Greenwood Community Theatre.
During most of June, the Saving GCT fundraising campaign brought money in for the shuttered Greenwood Community Theatre through sales of baked goods, T-shirts, handmade key chains, homemade jams and even a dancing dinosaur, all by theater youth.
Ryan S. Hewitt, GCT’s artistic director, and youth and outreach coordinator, said between $300 and $500 has been made each day.
“They have done really well,” Hewitt said. “The kids have done everything. They made sure we had bake sale items and they got the shirts ordered and they have been here to set up and clean up. ... It’s been really impressive for a group of middle- and high-school kids. We don’t yet know what the final count is.”
Hewitt said shirts are still being sold for $10 each and most sizes, except for medium, are available. He said anyone interested in getting a shirt can message the theater on Facebook, by email, or leaving a message at the theater.
Additionally, GCT hosted a virtual fundraiser, Unopening Night, for its spring Penguin Project production that could not happen in April. GCT is also part of the Curtains Up Coalition.
Although no live theater is happening before an in-person audience, GCT is hosting the Hometown Hodges concert series livestreams. Check the Hometown Hodges Facebook page for information on who is scheduled to play.
With spikes in coronavirus cases being reported in South Carolina, Hewitt said theater and concert venue personnel have not been told when Gov. Henry McMaster might allow them to reopen or under what guidelines.
“We knew from the beginning of this pandemic that theaters and concert venues would be among the last things allowed to reopen,” Hewitt said. “With cases going up, it’s just going to keep prolonging that.”
Hewitt said GCT has had to make “really hard decisions” with deciding to cancel some of its key money-makers, such as summer shows and summer camps.
“We meet every week and just talk what-ifs,” Hewitt said. “It’s nice to have some income through generous donations, but the theater is not making nearly what it should be were we able to put on shows and do what we do...At this point, we are still just wait and see with everything.”
GCT actor and Penguin Project artist Tim Paguntalan, 17, of Greenwood started in April making homemade jam. Proceeds from selling jars of jam are supporting the community theater and Greenwood Soup Kitchen.
To date, Tim, who has Down syndrome, has raised and donated $400 through his “Jamming for Love” project. He has been cast in the role of Pumba for GCT’s next Penguin Project, Disney’s “The Lion King” which was originally scheduled to take the stage in April.
“In April, I started with strawberry jam,” Tim said, noting his maternal grandmother, Marian Watters, showed him how. “My favorite part about making jam is squishing berries.”
A potato masher comes in handy for that step, he said.
Using a recipe from inside a package of fruit pectin, Tim’s mom, Carol, said her mother, Marian, has been making jam in the same way for years.
“They needed some things to do and she makes strawberry jam every year,” Carol said. “Tim and my mom have made something like 60 jars of strawberry jam and they have already made 30 jars of blueberry. Peaches are coming up. It’s been a fun way for one generation to pass skills to another and to help the community.”
The Paguntalans have been selling the jam through Facebook and delivering it to people. The first night they posted about homemade jam for sale to benefit GCT and the Greenwood Soup Kitchen, every jar of jam they had available sold in less than an hour. Suggested donation is a $6 minimum per jar. Supplies are limited. To purchase, Carol Paguntalan, on Facebook.
When the coronavirus pandemic subsides, Tim said he’s hopeful his jam sales will help “bring back ‘The Lion King’” so that he and his GCT friends can put on the musical.
“He knows every word of his monologue now,” said Tim’s father, John. “He’s been rehearsing a lot.”