Pasadena Playhouse has been approved for a $50,000 award as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“It’s really a big deal,” said Danny Feldman, Pasadena Playhouse’s producing artistic director.

“It’s a big honor. It’s such a challenging time for all of the organizations, let alone arts organizations and businesses that rely on people buying tickets. This is a challenge moment for us. We’re the only Pasadena organization to receive the grant and we’re really humbled by it.”

Feldman said he’s not sure why the playhouse was singled out, other than it does admirable work.

“I think our work speaks for itself in the community,” he said. “Our goal—and we have a lot of goals at the moment—are to continue to engage our community even if we are not allowed to gather in our building.”

Pasadena Playhouse is one of 855 organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico selected for this grant. The National Endowment for the Arts received more than 3,100 eligible applications requesting $157 million for the $45 million available in direct assistance. 

Pasadena Playhouse, along with the other awardees, represents the diverse nature of arts organizations around the country. Overall funding was divided nearly evenly between small, medium and large arts organizations.

This grant will be used to support Pasadena Playhouse’s digital programming personnel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re trying to navigate the treacherous waters of this period, by having some flexibility and being in a position to be there when our community needs us,” he said.

National Endowment for the Arts said arts and culture are key components of the U.S. economy that contribute $877.8 billion, or 4.5%, to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2017 and employ over 5 million wage‐and‐salary workers who collectively earned $405 billion. This funding will help support those jobs and those nonprofit organizations during this time of great need so that arts and culture will persevere as a significant contributor to the American economy.

Feldman said efforts are underway to employ staff, artists and others in the arts field.

“We will be unveiling some very exciting new digital programs that were created in response to COVID that are not as simple as Zoom play readings,” he said. “I’m talking new pieces of art that will be presented in a digital way. We were planning this even before COVID. I’m very excited to share more with everyone soon. That is what this grant is going toward. It’s a much larger effort.”

The project is an expansion of what the Pasadena Playhouse has done in the past, Feldman said. He’s just looking at it with a different lens.

“We’re trying to figure out how do we maintain the Pasadena Playhouse’s mission, which is to enrich the lives of our community,” Feldman said. “We’re figuring out how do we do that within the four walls of our historic, beautiful building. We’re thinking of other ways we can engage, particularly in a moment when, I believe, the community needs the arts more than ever to process and understand the world around them.”

Feldman said the grant continues the Pasadena Playhouse’s fundraising initiative. Like many other organizations that are struggling through this period, the Pasadena Playhouse launched an emergency fundraising program.

“We knew we needed to ensure that we would be there on the other side of this,” Feldman said. “We need to continue our work and to serve the community.”