SACRAMENTO – The lights have gone dark as the coronavirus pandemic has closed down theaters and productions across the globe. For them, the fight for survival includes figuring out how to pay rent on buildings no longer filled with patrons.

Celebration Arts was started in 1986 and is the the only theater company in Sacramento solely focusing on Black theater year round. Organizers say they need the community’s help to survive beyond the closure.

Community-based theatres are particularly hard hit. Locally, Celebration Arts is staging a crowdfunding campaign to raise needed assistance.

“We are trying to survive like all other arts organizations, after cancelling the remainder of “The Bluest Eye” which played throughout February and parts of March,” shared Board Member Dr. Halifu Osumare.

“We are now shut down, and started a GoFundMe campaign to continue to pay the rent and bills without any box office income,” continued Dr. Osumare, who is Professor Emerita of African American & African Studies at UC Davis.

The campaign purpose reads: “Although we are working on getting our monthly rent and other expenses deferred, we desperately need financial support because we get few grants. Our main source of income has been from our box office receipts. Those of us in the arts community and those of us who support the arts know the financial pressures that have long been increasing for those in the arts – especially for artists of color.”

Celebration Arts, now located at 2727 B Street, has been showcasing and training the next generation of Black performers, playwrights, directors and designers since 1986. Long time artistic director James Wheatley has kept doors open through trying financial times before.

Celebration Arts is seeking to raise $500,000. They’re far from that goal, but Board members like Dr. Linda Goodrich and Vorees Franklin are spreading the word and Dr. Osumare says the effort will continue indefinitely.

“There is no end date to the fundraiser, just like there does not seem to be an end to this virus,” she said.

For more on the donor campaign visit https://www.gofundme .com/f/celebration-arts-needs-your-help or call (916) 455-ARTS (2787).

By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer