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History of CCT

A Walk Through CCT’s History

The Columbus Junior Theatre of the Arts (CJT) was founded in 1963 by Mrs. Howard (Sis) Bloom to offer classes in theatre and production experience for children throughout central Ohio. With the help of Mrs. Michael Herrel, classes were first taught in a space on West Broad Street and later moved to Trinity Episcopal Church. In 1966, CJT moved to a newly purchased building on Main Street. The first full time Executive Director was then hired in 1967 with help from the Columbus Foundation, the Joseph A. Jeffrey Fund, Junior League, and the Ohio Arts Council.

Our History

One of CCT’s earliest Touring Companies (1970s)

CJT’s first touring company was created in 1970. The company was comprised of adult volunteer performers. This continued until 1983 when the first professional touring company was officially hired. In the same year, CJT partnered with Columbus Public Schools to create The Child Writing Project.

By 1985, classes and week-long summer camps were created which doubled the student enrollment. Additionally, CJT sold their building on Main Street and moved to 504 N. Park Street. However, by 1989 financials were not good, the Executive Director had quit suddenly, and CJT’s board voted on whether or not to close the doors.

Our History

Live performance of PIPPIN at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Thankfully, they decided to keep them open. By the end of 1989, CJT’s board hired William Goldsmith as Executive Director who immediately began an extensive expansion of all activities. With a completed 99 seat performance space complete in 504 N. Park Street, CJT introduced the first theatre series in 1990.

By the time CJT celebrated it’s 32nd year, in 1995, it contracted its first Education Director, remodeled the lobby and took the summer Pre-Professional Company to perform in Leicester, England, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, and the Avignon Festival in France.

In 1997, with box office records breaking every year, the theater hired a full time Managing Director and moved from the 99 seat space to leasing (and later purchasing) a 170 seat theatre at 512 Park Street where it remains today. In 1998, CJT changed its name to Columbus Children’s Theatre (CCT).

Our History

The Druid Tree (2000)

CCT’s budget exceeded $500,000 in 2000 and the organization was recognized as a “Major Institution in Columbus” by the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Columbus Arts Council, and the Columbus Foundation. Subscriptions to the theatre series increased by over 50% and overall attendance was at 85%. The success allowed CCT to offer its professional touring company actors full benefits including health, dental, vision and 401K. To add to these accomplishments, the year 2000 also saw the commission of CCT’s first full musical, The Druid Tree, which was written specifically for the Pre-Professional Company and had its world premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Several other world premieres followed in CCT’s subsequent years including Green Gables, Ebenezer, Surviving the Applewhites, Cinderella, A Hip Hop Fairytale and Ugly Duckling, a Hip Hop Dramady.

Our History

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast (2005)

In 2007, CCT moved its administrative offices off site to 177 E. Naghten Street. The move was required to make room for the city’s new baseball stadium for the Columbus Clippers, and the space was shared with Opera Columbus.

The historical Lincoln Theatre on E. Long Street was renovated in 2009. CCT immediately became a resident company and performs at least one show in this 560 seat theatre each season.

In 2012, Opera Columbus moved out of the Naghten Street office space and CCT took over the entire 15,000 square foot facility. With the additional space, the academy expanded rapidly with the addition of after school classes, private lessons, dance classes and the Young Adult Theatrical Academy.

CCT celebrated its 50th year in 2013 with a budget exceeding $1,000,000 and a celebration with family, friends, patrons and distinguished alumni, including Josh Radnor, star of the television series How I Met Your Mother. 

Special Message Regarding COVID-19

Dear Friends of CCT,

I wanted to personally provide a CCT update as we manage the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our paramount concern is that everyone remains vigilant to limit the impact of the pandemic. Much of what we have come to accept as normal is in question. What is not in question is our commitment to our students, families, staff and collaborators.

Please note the status update for the following productions and programs as of June 25, 2020:

Thank you for your patience with us as we worked through our 2020 CCT Summer Camp strategy. As you might imagine, the CCT Board of Trustees and staff had - and continue to have - difficult decisions to make during this unprecedented time. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our organization in ways we did not anticipate – operationally, logistically, financially, and emotionally. 

Theatre companies around the globe have shuttered their doors; some until as late as March 2021. Even Broadway, the pinnacle of live theatre in America, has postponed all productions until September 2020.

Given current circumstances, we have concluded that we cannot guarantee the safety of children and their families. As such, we are cancelling all “IN-PERSON/Face to Face” CCT Summer Camps scheduled between July 6 and August 9, 2020. However, we have converted several of these summer camps to a digital platform in an effort to still offer them virtually. Of course, each virtual camp will have a significantly reduced fee, which will allow for parents to…

  1. Donate the remainder of your registration fees back to CCT for a Tax Deductible Donation.
  2. Apply the full amount of previously paid registrations fees to MORE than one of the new virtual camps (up to the amount previously paid).
  3. Convert their registrations fees into one of our 2021 CCT Family Value Packages (details below).
  4. Request a refund for overpayment (less the virtual camp fee) OR a full refund.

This decision was not taken lightly as there are significant financial ramifications for our organization that come with this choice. Of course, the safety of your children and families outweighs any financial damages we suffer. Our promise to this community has always been, “To Provide a Safe Space for Children to Explore, Learn, and Thrive.” SAFE is the operative word here.

We deeply regret the impact this decision might have on your summer plans.

We respectfully ask you that you accept the following 2021 CCT Value Pack in lieu of a refund:

  1. Family 4-Pack of Premium Ticket Vouchers (Orchestra Level) for our April 2021 production of the beloved classic, THE WIZARD OF OZ at the Lincoln Theatre. (This title has NOT been announced yet. Please keep CONFIDENTIAL).
  2. Guaranteed backstage passes for your entire family (upon your request) for THE WIZARD OF OZ.
  3. $50.00 Discount Voucher for 2021 Academy classes or Summer Camps.

It is a little known fact that small arts organizations like CCT rely heavily on contributed income – donations from people like you and me. If you would like to donate the full amount of your registration fees, we will issue you an official Tax Credit Letter to use as a 2020 income tax deduction. Letters will be sent following the end of our 2020 Summer Camp season.

In the event that you do not wish to participate in our Virtual Summer Camp offerings, please consider our request to convert your 2020 Summer Camp registration fees to donations or the 2021 CCT Value Pack to help protect YOUR Columbus Children's Theatre. Working together will be the very best way to ensure CCT is stable and secure once it is safe to reopen.

If you have not already done so, please contact John Faas at john@columbuschildrenstheatre.org to secure your Value Pack or with any questions, comments or concerns. Email is the preferred method of communication due to our remaining staff working from home. Please DO NOT call the office general line as we are all still working remotely.

Other Updates following the end of the 2019-2020 Season:

Heathers: The Musical (High School Edition) – postponed until summer 2021

Matilda: The Musical – cancelled
Please contact the CAPA Ticket Center at 614-469-0939 to either donate your ticket purchase price or request a refund. Donated ticket sales revenue will be equally divided between Columbus Children’s Theatre and CATCO is Kids, our production partner and are greatly appreciated to sustain our organizations during this unprecedented time.

The negative financial impact of these cancellations is enormous for a company of our size. However, the financial impact is minimal compared to the disappointment of the students, families, and local artists impacted by the COVID-19 virus. As a small/mid-sized cultural institution, we rely heavily on the community to sustain our operations...and now more than ever.

If our organization has touched your family through our Academy Classes, Summer Camps, Productions, Volunteerism, or through your Philanthropic Support...I ask you to make a contribution to Columbus Children's Theatre today.

We have no idea how long we will have to "weather this storm." However, when the sky does clear and the "gates swing open", we hope to remain the place where the youth of Columbus can come running for their artistic fulfillment.

Your support can ensure this.

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Sincerely,


Susan Pringle
Executive Director
Columbus Children's Theatre