NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) – A Fox Valley youth arts organization is stepping back from the stage to keep people safe during the pandemic. But in doing so, it’s losing out on significant funding.
“It is a real hard time for us because of, not only for the business, but it’s also our livelihood, so it hurts,” said Jim Hart, program director for JuBriCoSa.
JuBriCoSa is a youth arts academy that’s been running for 32 years in the Fox Valley for kids ages four through 18.
“We teach confidence, responsibility, and life skills through the performing arts.,” said Hart.
But Hart says the pandemic has seriously impacted the organization.
“When word got out and schools shut down and everything kind of halted, the registrations just stopped,” said Hart.
Hart says their programs run throughout the year, but the summer session usually brings in the most income.
Though registration was half its normal number, they still tried to hold their summer camp in June, starting at an Oshkosh location.
“Started every day with the students coming in, their temperature would be checked, we’d give the parents a thumbs up, we told the parents not to leave until they got that,” said Hart. “They would then go after the temperature check to the hand sanitation area, all our staff was masked.”
However, when a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 three weeks in, Hart says they stopped the program entirely, never bringing it to other planned locations like Neenah’s Faith United Methodist Church.
“The whole reason we do this is to teach young people responsibility and self confidence,” said Hart. “How responsible are we as adults if we don’t put aside the finances?Not that they aren’t important, but the lives of these young people – at any risk – it’s not worth it.”
To try to make up some of the lost registration funding, ticket sales, and other missed income they’re hosting an online fundraising event.
“August first, our JubiFest will happen online with gift baskets, and online performances, a donation button.,” said Hart.
Hart hopes the hundreds of kids they serve will be able to take the stage again in Fall, but says they have to catch up financially first before programs can resume.
“It just takes my heart out of my body just to know these young people don’t have that outlet, and hopefully something is going to turn around,” said Hart.
Hart says he and many of the program’s alumni will contribute performances to JubiFest.
To learn more about JuBriCoSa and the upcoming event, visit its website.
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