BREMERTON — When the Central Kitsap Community Center was torn down a year ago, the Central Stage Theater of County Kitsap was set adrift.
CSTOCK, as it’s more commonly known, then went to the Central Kitsap School District for a new stage on which to perform.
“It’s been an ongoing conversation over the last 12, 15, 18 months,” CKSD’s communications director David Beil said. “We were able to work with them at the CK middle school in the older of the two gymnasiums. From last September up until now, CSTOCK has been practicing and performing at CK Middle School.”
But at the Aug. 31 school board meeting, the two organizations agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MOU), which will be the first step to building a permanent auditorium on the Ridgetop Middle School campus, to benefit both the school and the theater.
“Currently, there’s no auditorium at Ridgetop,” Beil said. “This provides an auditorium and provides some programming for the arts there.”
Beil said the school board has talked about the possibility of turning Ridgetop into the district’s school of choice for performing arts.
“It comes down to, kids are different, and families are looking for different options,” Beil said. “That’s one thing we’ve heard. Families are looking for options for their students and their education, options we don’t currently provide.”
Partnering with CSTOCK to create an auditorium, those options could turn Ridgetop into the go-to school for performing arts education in CKSD.
According to a press release on the CKSD website, “CSTOCK will pay 75 percent of construction costs, and the district will donate land and seek state funds to pay for the other 25 percent” for the 200-seat auditorium that will be located near the Ridgetop Middle School campus.
However, the MOU is only the first step towards that end goal.
“The MOU gives both organizations some things that we need to evaluate and figure out what we can work with,” Beil said. “Both boards are committed to working together to see if we can achieve the goals.”
Before they can really move forward, Beil said the district and CSTOCK need to figure out things such as the facility design, where on the Ridgetop campus the auditorium would be looked at, building access and the maintenance and upkeep of the building.
Beil said that the district sees the school having full access to the auditorium during the school day, and CSTOCK would have full access in the evenings for rehearsals and performances.
“We do have some work to go through to get to that agreement, but both organizations are very hopeful that we will be able to get all of these pieces lined up and ironed out.”
Should the goals be met, CKSD and CSTOCK would draft a second MOU to develop a specific plan to raise funds for the auditorium’s construction.
According to the MOU, there are a few specific goals for this partnership and auditorium, including:
— developing programming and curriculum requirements to offer a graduation path and distinction in performing arts;
— collaborating with teachers to design performing arts-based lessons for various disciplines with the potential for flexible, project-based credit-earning options;
— providing classes and workshops during enrichment periods, early release times, non-student days and holiday breaks;
— offering year-round extra-curricular programming and collaboration with existing after-school clubs and groups;
— offering mentoring and intern opportunities with directors, producers and technical professionals with related scholarship awards;
— offering pre-kindergarten through 12th graders exposure to live theater during daytime CSTOCK performances, with ticket discounts to encourage family attendance at evening productions;
— expanding funding to increase opportunities for low-income students to participate in extra-curricular programming;
— and providing increased educational opportunities for students with special needs (current CSTOCK programs incorporate American Sign Language and special performance that involve students with autism).
To learn more, visit ckschools.org.