Sunday, January 23, 2005

San Jose as an arts community - Joan M. Wilson

The Honorable Mr. Ron Gonzales:

This letter is in regards to the Young Peoples Theater at the Kirk Center.  This program is a positive program for not just the youth in San Jose but for the parents, grandparents (from all over who come to San Jose for the sole reason of seeing their grandchild or friend’s grandchild), aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, teachers (some who have come from other cities to attend performances, then eat in our restaurants and shop in our city), friends of the performers, Girl Scouts, families that receive food from programs such as City Team Ministries and Sacred Heart Community Center, Cancer research and patient support.

San Jose has prided itself as being an arts community.  I hope it will continue to support the arts in all aspects especially when it comes to our young people and giving them a positive creative outlet.  San Jose also boasts a low crime rate.  I hope it will continue to support positive programs for our youth (that include preteens and teens that are not into sports).  San Jose has enough good sports programs.

There is at least one boy that came to YPT that was on the verge of being at risk in Middle School he could have very easily turned the wrong way, and then he found this program.  His parents told me that they attribute this program for his choice in better friends and working harder in school and having a more positive view of himself and where he fits into the world.

Another parent told me that their son has been less angry since being a part of the YPT program.

I think that is part of what this program brings to more than just these young people – “being a part of”.  Without YPT there is nothing, without the young performers there is nothing and without both elements there is no magic.  With it all, there is truly more than just the magic of theater.

YPT has given my own son a more positive attitude about himself, he is more confident and has a feeling that he is valued in this world not only by his parents but by his peers and other adults of this community that he doesn’t even know.  He does however know that he played a big part in bringing some joy and entertainment to the community as a whole each and every time he is a part of the Young Peoples Theater program.  He has a purpose in his life with this program.  He has felt a sense of value because this isn’t a program that we just pay the money for and he’s in, he has to earn a part in this, it is all him, Mom and Dad have nothing to do with his getting a part, just him, his talents and hard work.  And people pay much more than the price of a movie ticket to come and see what he and the other actors have worked very hard for.  He has been able to progress with other parts and more lines because of his hard work.  It has given him the confidence to apply for work to pay for part of his tuition in another program that he attends.  He told me after his first experience with YPT, “I felt like I had come home the moment I walked into that room (the theater).”

I have met many students at West Valley College that have been a part of Young People’s Theater at the Kirk Center and I have heard many positive things about their experiences as well.

YPT has been a SUCCESSFUL positive force in our community for over 20 YEARS that has put money back into the CITY’S GENERAL FUND.  It has already been cut to the bone with the loss of aprox. $75,000.00 by cutting the part time positions.  The City of San Jose’s General Fund, last year, only paid for 2 benefited positions of 2 people that give more than what they are paid for and give up more than what anyone would ever expect for far less than what they deserve.

Please, please, please do not close the Kirk Community Theater and turn it into office space.   How can we possibly ask that a child go with out a meal because the City of San Jose had to cut a program that not only was positive for the participants but provided thousands of pounds of food (ALL DONATED) by the audiences of Young Peoples Theater.  I could not and will not support such a government that could cut a program such as this, which gives more back to the community as a whole than it costs to keep it.


Joan M. Wilson
1789 Wyrick Ave.
San Jose, CA  95124


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