After a six-year run as the city of Milpitas’ premier performing arts program, Center Stage Performing Arts (CSPA) received notice from Milpitas Recreation organizers that the city will suspend production for programs like CSPA to focus on program development.

Milpitas Recreation organizers made the announcement on July 31, 2019, via email. This is a surprising decision coming from Milpitas, which is now considered a major California city. As it grows fiercely with corporate companies and compact housing, its family populous is ever expanding. This leads one to wonder how the city plans to foster a healthy cultural and artistic life, especially for its youth.

Mei-Wan Chai, CPSA Artistic and Program Director, leads the organization to produce 5-7 shows a year. According to Chai, their last 4 main productions drew nearly 90 participants and 14 crew members. The company cultivates community support, as numerous parents and theater alumni make up their dedicated volunteers. 

Among this devoted group are Bob and Michelle Bandel, who assisted as volunteer set designers, and Bobby Rodriguez, who donated his time as Technical Director. Even Chai’s own daughters volunteered as choreographers, vocal directors, and managers of CSPA’s website and social media outlets.

Even with a solid volunteership, additional artistic theater employees are contracted for main productions.

Many who participate in the arts know firsthand the demanding schedule for live theater. Rehearsals can be all-consuming, but Chai shares, “We are family-oriented. Unlike other theaters, we understand children want to be involved in sports, dance, church, family, etc., and we allow for that.” She continues, “Our mission has always been to put the children first by developing lifelong skills through performing arts and creating invaluable friendships and everlasting memories.”

The pause on production support for CSPA curtails opportunities for youth across the City of Milpitas, who have turned to the community center for live artistic expression of acting, singing, and dancing. 

The Milpitas Beat reached out to both Milpitas Recreation and Community Services Director Renee Lorentzen and Community Engagement and Inclusion Administrator Tegan McLane to learn more about this decision. At press time, a statement from the department had not been provided.

A community meeting will take place on Thursday, August 22, 2019, from 7-9pm at the Milpitas Community Center. Residents are encouraged to offer their input and share their perspectives on program development and performing arts opportunities in Milpitas.

If you have questions on this process, you may contact Tegan McLane, City of Milpitas Community Engagement and Inclusion Administrator, at (408) 586-3212 or tmclane@ci.milpitas.ca.gov.

A petition to renew CSPA is circulating the community. To learn more or to participate in the petition, you may go here.

 

 

 

 

 

Nerizza Besabe Manongdo
Nerizza is a parent and a PTA leader at John Sinnott Elementary. She previously held the position of President and continues her participation this year as Communications Chair. Outside of serving her school community, Nerizza is an eBook author and food writer.

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