AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – One local arts organization is turning to the city of Augusta for help in maintaining its place as a pillar in the arts community.
“They deserve the best, and we’re going to do our best to get them the best so that they can grow,” says Tyrone Butler, the founder of the Augusta Mini Theatre.
And that has been the mission since Butler began what has become the first arts school in Augusta to offer all of the performing arts disciplines under one roof.
Butler started the organization in 1975 with a focus on helping kids who have a love for acting, singing, and dancing.
The Augusta Mini Theatre moved into its current home on Deans Bridge Road in 2008, using a $1.3 Million grant from the city and $400,000 that the organization raised on its own, but the initial plans called for much more.
“When we moved into this building, we had to leave the theatre portion off,” says Butler. “We had to leave the theater off because we just didn’t have the funds to do that. So here we are today from 2008 to 2023 trying to complete the construction of this building.”
Performances are done in a small room called “the Black Box,” and even though audiences are able to experience great performances, Butler says, there are some disadvantages.
“We get a lot of young folk coming to our plays because a lot of our plays our social issue-oriented so we get a lot of young folk,” says Butler. “Then, they’re short; they’re children, and a lot of them can’t see. Parents have to hold them up, and then, when you hold them up you’re blocking somebody else. So, the stage isn’t adequate, and we our production to be as authentic as possible.”
Butler has plans for a 150-seat instructional performance center on this field, but the Augusta Mini Theater needs some help to make it happen, so the organization is turning once again to the city to help turn this dream into a reality.
“To date, we have around $345,000 so we’re still at a deficit of $455,000,” says Reishal Cummings, the Development Director for the Augusta Mini Theatre. “If we don’t meet our goal by August 31st, we can go before the commission again and ask for an extension, but as we all know, because of the current climate of the market, prices will rise.”
And with that deadline quickly approaching, students like Monae Burns hope the community will donate so that the Augusta Mini Theatre can continue to be a positive impact for future students like her.
“When I first came in here, I was really shy. I used to sit in the back of the theater and say nothing to anybody,” says Burns, an alum of the Augsuta Mini Theatre. “But it has brought me out of my shell, and I’m a lot more social.”
Those positive results lead Butler to believe the mini theater can continue for years to come.
However, Butler has a word for Augusta and the surrounding areas: “For anyone who hears this or sees this, the Augusta Mini Theatre is here for you.”
If you want to learn more about the Augusta Mini Theatre, you can visit the website or if you would like to donate, you can donate via Cash App $AugustaMiniTheatre or Paypal @AugustaMiniTheatre or you can call the front desk to schedule a time to drop off your donation at (706) 722-0598.