As we close our theater season for 2021, the Oak Park Festival Theatre Board (OPFT) and staff are feeling very grateful for the tremendous support we’ve received from our community recently. A huge “Thank you!” goes out to all who joined us for a production and donated to keep our vital mission going. We honestly could not have done it without you.

Now we are reaching out to our west suburban and adjacent Chicago neighbors to find people interested in joining our board of directors. We need you! We encourage new voices and ideas, and OPFT is looking for people who wish to be a part of an inclusive vision for performing arts. Even if you have no experience on a board, we encourage anyone with enthusiasm and skills to help oversee our nonprofit professional theatre. It’s fun, interesting, and is a career growth builder as well. Do you know someone who would enjoy being a leader in our organization? You can find out more about the role at https://oakparkfestival.com/volunteer. 

People sometimes take the presence of local arts organizations for granted — until they are no longer there. Then we mourn their passing and wish we had done more to support them. This year, the resources we received from donors and special government pandemic funds kept our theater afloat. Because we perform our summer production outdoors at the Park District of Oak Park’s Austin Gardens, we were fortunate to have been able to re-open in person, although at reduced seating capacity. We incurred increased costs due to required COVID safety procedures such as regular testing of our actors and staff, and renting outdoor restroom facilities. We also chose to increase the compensation for our actors and interns. Ticket prices remained reasonable (and free for kids!) as we are committed to encouraging a broad audience to attend our productions. 

Many community members supported Oak Park Festival Theatre through our giving program, and we could not have kept going without this generosity. The Park District of Oak Park is making Pleasant Home available to us at a reasonable cost for our fall production of The Madness of Edgar Allen Poe – A Love Story. This allowed a seasonal favorite to be presented once again. 

All of the preparation for next year’s season is underway now. Our board and staff are in the midst of planning and fundraising so we can be back in Austin Gardens next summer. As we prepare, we invite you to be an active participant in our theater as a leader, an audience member, and as a sponsor. We want to know your feedback, too, and how you think we can provide the best possible cultural and entertainment experience for you. Write to us on our website: https://oakparkfestival.com/volunteer.

See you in the park in July 2022!

Barbara Cimaglio is the OPFT Board president and an Oak Park resident.

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