About three months ago, Phil Kasper, Bloomington resident and volunteer at both the Bloomington Playwrights Project and the Community Kitchen decided he would try to pull together a benefit event that would help both of the needy not-for-profit agencies.\n"We both recognize the need for it because we both need a great deal of support. I am constantly aware of the needs of the community kitchen. We are in a time of some economic distress and arts organizations are very hard hit when it comes to government funding," Kasper said.\nThe event, called "Acting Against Hunger," will take place at the BPP Sunday evening. A $25 donation will grant patrons access to a wine and cheese reception followed by a theater performance. The performance will include selections from some well known poems that deal with the issues of homelessness and hunger, as well as dramatic selections from "A Long Days Journey into Night" by Eugene O'Neil and from Shakespeare's "King Lear."\n"This is a joint benefit to show that two seemingly different organizations with different missions can work together," Kasper said. "It is important for us to work together for those missions, to come together to accomplish our goal instead of pitting ourselves against each other."\nThe teamwork of a collaborative effort has prevailed throughout the planning of the event. \n"Everything has been planned jointly. The Community Kitchen handled the mailing, provided the dishes and steam tables and we at the BPP have got the cooks and the food donations," said Sonja Johnson, Development Director at the BPP. "Phil Kasper has been the most active because he represents both of us."\nBoth groups are also pulling together their manpower and volunteers to put on the event. BPP staffers, including Johnson and Julio Alonso, Director of the Community Kitchen, and other volunteers will be cooking. BPP Marketing Director Candie Decker will be acting along with local actors Mark McIntyre, Mike Price, Blake Magnusson, and Alan Burnett. Kasper will be directing. Some local businesses are also lending a hand. Butler Winery is donating the wine, Kroger Supermarket is donating a cheese tray, and Flora restaurant is donating dessert.\nThe combination of arts and charity has already been a successful fundraising strategy for both groups. The Community Kitchen has an annual silent auction and participates in the Soup Bowl that benefits the Hoosier Hills Food Bank. The BPP holds an annual "Preformathon," silent auction and garage sale. If successful, both groups hope to make "Acting Against Hunger" an annual event. \n"Specifically in Monroe County we have an arts community that is very generous and have been very generous to support the Community Kitchen," Alonso said, as he went on to explain why this partnership works. \n"An artist can provide a sculpture or piece of art that is tangible. (When bought) it supports the arts and the donor is more likely to purchase the art when they know that the money is going to a good cause. They are receiving something tangible for their donation," Alonso said.\nBoth agencies provide needed services to the community and have many needs that are met with government funding as well as with charitable donation dollars.\n"We have paid staff, the artistic and marketing director, directors, and playwrights are paid. We hope to have a part time paid education director, rent every month, utilities, accountants, (and) marketing. We are a business but we don't have to turn a profit," said Johnson, who volunteers her time at the BPP.\nJohnson believes that the services provided by the BPP are vital to the local arts community.\n"First of all we believe that all plays are new at one time and if no one devotes themselves to new plays the body of dramatic literature will become stale. People need to produce new plays to ensure the future of the American theater. We believe that theater is an important part of our culture and people who live in Bloomington deserve the right to enjoy theater just as much as people who live in New York or San Francisco. Also, there are lots of people who are theater artisans and we provide a means for them to uses their skills and crafts," Johnson said.\nThe Community Kitchen is a hunger relief agency that has a paid staff of 11 and a volunteer staff of 80. \n"In June we provided 524 meals a day, six days a week. Any one can come in to our two kitchens and receive a free meal, no questions asked. We served 111,000 meals last year. We also take part in the Feed our Future campaign. We provide meals to other agencies that feed kids, Boys and Girls Club and the Banneker Center. In the summer we have a summer breakfast program that provides sack breakfasts for low income children around the community."\nAlonso and Kasper both believe that partnerships between not-for-profit agencies have the possibility of being very beneficial for all involved.\n"I think that you may see some level of pairing together in the community in the future ... we are competing in the same arenas for support. Any organizations that have events where they can introduce their supporters to each other's organizations are opening themselves up to more support opportunities," Alonso said.\n"Acting Against Hunger" will take place at 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 21 at the BPP. The cost is $25. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP by Friday, July 19 by calling the BPP at 334-1188 or the Community Kitchen at 332-0999.
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