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Youth theatre group receives much-needed grant
YES Company participants perform on stage in 2007. - photo by Photo Contributed
Young actors from Stanislaus County will have money for costumes, sets, and props this summer thanks to a grant from Newman’s Own Foundation. Stanislaus County Office of Education’s Youth Entertainment Stage (YES) Company received a $35,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation for the second year in a row.
YES Company, which is sponsored by both the Stanislaus County Office of Education and the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County, is an acting program for students in grades seven through 12. Part of the grant money will also benefit YES Kids and YES Kidettes, programs for younger kids.  
YES Company provides a nine-week summer acting program free of charge to students who are cast through auditions. Chris Hanks, YES Company production planner, said that about 100 kids are cast each summer.
“Only maybe one fourth to one third of the kids are repeats. The rest of them are in the program for the first time,” Hanks said.
YES Company is scaling down its budget for materials and supplies this year, mostly due to budget cutbacks. Hanks said that YES Company will be performing “Music Man” this summer as a “strategic move.”  The company performed the show nine years ago, and they still have some of the sets and props for the show. People are also likely to come see “Music Man,” it was well received nine years ago and Hanks hopes ticket sales will do well this year.
The yearly spending for the three strands of YES Company is partially covered by ticket sales and tuition for YES Kids and YES Kidettes. The Newman’s Own Foundation grant will provide about 20 percent of spending this year.
“That $35,000 is a huge weight off the shoulders,” Hanks said.
Part of the grant will be used to fund part-time adult staff for the summer YES Company show, but the bulk will go towards materials, costumes, sets, and properties for the YES Company. A small part of the grant will also be retroactively used to pay for the past productions of “Sleeping Beauty.” YES Kids will use another small part of the grant to pay for some expenses for their ongoing show, “Seussical Jr.”
“Seussical” is playing this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Thomas Downey High School in Modesto. Open Auditions for YES Company’s production of “The Music Man” start Feb. 17. Show times and tickets, along with more information about the YES Company programs, can be found at
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.