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Grants help youth theater continue in Marquette

September 30, 2012
By ADELLE WHITEFOOT - Journal Ishpeming Bureau ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - The Lake Superior Youth Theatre was recently awarded a $3,000 grant for scholarships and a $7,000 challenge grant by the Louis G. Kaufman Endowment Fund for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The grant was submitted last fall, said Nikke Nason, artistic director of LSYT.

"They were very receptive to it but the foundation want us to follow up with a strategic plan before they gave us any money," Nason said. "So we had a strategic planning session in February and submitted it."

Article Photos

Annie, played by Karen Ludwig, and orphans sing 'Hard-Knock Life' during the March production of “Annie Jr.” (Nikke Nason photo)

After meeting with the Kaufman Foundation in May, LSYT was awarded the grants.

"It was really great because it was kind of the springboard we needed to continue our organization and to really get everybody involved as a whole," Nason said. "It was really important because we don't have the resources at the youth theatre."

Nason said the Kaufman Foundation is just a great match for LSYT because a lot of the time they fund things specifically for the youth.

"They have been giving us funding for year and we're just grateful that we asked for a larger amount and that they were able to fund that and really help us out and get started," Nason said. "It's really been a positive springboard to help us to continue on administratively and financially."

The Lake Superior Theatre Inc. was founded in 1998 through The City of Marquette Arts and Culture Center. Lake Superior Theatre has been a sustainable viable organization for 13 years in Marquette. The MACC founded a youth theatre program in 2001. Reatha Tweedie, former director of MACC and current executive director of LSYT, worked with Nason to develop and produce the youth theatre where it blossomed the past 10 years under the direction of Nason.

Last year, Nason resigned from the youth theatre to return to Northern Michigan University to obtain her masters degree. MACC then approached Lake Superior Theatre and asked them to take over the youth theatre because the city didn't have the staffing or administration to keep the program going. After agreeing to do so, the program then became Lake Superior Youth Theatre. Nason and Tweedie agreed to run the theatre for one year to create a sustainability plan and strategic plan for it success with the possibility of continuing in their roles.

Receiving the grant for the Kaufman Foundation allowed the LSYT to create a board of directors right away, Nason said. The $7,000 challenge grant was a 1-to-1 ratio match, meaning the foundation would match however much LSYT raised up to $7,000. LSYT had to raise the money but the end of this calendar year, which through various donations and fundraiser they've already done so, Nason said.

Getting the grant, Nason said, was exciting because it was recognition and positive feedback from the community about the program.

"I always hear how great it from the youth but I think having that kind of external recognition other than from the people directly involved with the program is fulfilling," Nason said. "You know that you're doing something that matters as opposed to just doing a program. I think it shows that it's important to the community."

The Lake Superior Youth Theatre is holding auditions Oct. 5-7 for their winter production of "The Little Mermaid." For more information, email the LSYT at or call 906-362-6453.

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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