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Support of the creative arts brings joy to Eau Claire community

How does a local community performing arts non-profit organization make it through a pandemic? How does an organization stay afloat when in-person events are not allowed for long periods of time and people are continuing to limit their in-person interactions as the pandemic endures?

One shining light that has helped the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre in Eau Claire, Wis. to continue on is the generosity of donors.

Security Health Plan Marketing Communications Specialist Jen Kieffer is a volunteer, performer, and board member for the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre in Eau Claire, Wis. She nominated the organization for Security Health Plan’s Employee-Driven Corporate Giving grant. Each month Security Health Plan awards this $1,000 grant to a different charity or organization that is nominated by a Marshfield Clinic Health System employee.

“The mental health of community members is just as important as their physical health, and the Eau Claire Children's Theatre brings happiness, joy, and a sense of fulfillment to each volunteer, performer, and patron of the arts who is involved in any way with the organization,” Kieffer said. “ECCT has been, and will continue to be as we move further away from the pandemic, an integral part of the healing process as we are able to gather together again.”
ECCT supports people's mental health by being a creative outlet and by offering arts and entertainment to the public through plays, musicals, and children's events throughout the year.

The funding from the grant is being used to help offset the loss of  ticket sales revenue due to canceled performances, and the fall 2021 semester cancellation of ECCT school matinees and touring productions due to the ongoing pandemic.

“We are so grateful for Security Health Plan’s donation,” said ECCT Executive Director Wayne Marek. “Every single donation adds up and helps us continue our mission of providing quality theatrical and educational experiences as cast, crew and audience members for children and their families in western Wisconsin.”

Kieffer nominated ECCT for the grant because the Children's Theatre is a community organization that serves the Chippewa Valley in many ways. It is a family of volunteers and performers and provides a creative outlet and a sense of belonging for many people. It is a place where all ages feel accepted and able to interact with people who support them and encourage them to step out of their comfort zones and try new things.

“The pandemic has hit ECCT hard. We have had to eliminate staff positions and we completely closed our doors for a while last year,” Kieffer said. “Shows were canceled. Our revenue streams took a major hit and we've scrambled to stay afloat. We desperately require donations to keep the doors open.

“The arts are a balm for so many souls here in the Chippewa Valley, and ECCT is a big source of that for many, many of us here.”

For more information on the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre, visit their website at ecct.org.