B Street investment will provide many returns

The Sacramento City Council granted B Street Theatre an additional $500,000 on Tuesday so that we may break ground on our new theater facility in midtown.

We are honored and humbled. Countless organizations and cultural groups are deserving of public support. Evaluating funding criteria is an achingly difficult process for each council member.

All agree the arts are essential. This is why the city wisely created and funds such arts-granting agencies as the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and Art in Public Places.

However, there comes a time when the city should do more. Not out of simple generosity but as an investment in its community. Providing help to the new B Street Theatre is one of those times.

Why B Street? In a word: impact.

The B Street Theatre is one of the most impactful performing arts organizations for children in the country. We serve hundreds of thousands of children annually with educational-theatrical programs, in-school literacy workshops, field trips and statewide mental health tours.

This type of programming is not a nice addition to public school curricula but a replacement of abandoned, in-school arts and literacy training that is essential to the child. The new B Street Theatre will allow more children to participate.

Further, the city’s support, which will be 10 percent of total cost, will benefit arts and cultural groups beyond B Street. The 365-seat Sutter Children’s Theatre will be available to organizations in search of midsize performing arts.

The city also is investing in Sacramento’s economy. The new B Street Theatre building will bring $40 million to the region in its first five years of construction and operation. Once we open, the new B Street will draw more than 200,000 people annually to the city where they will park, dine, use hotels and shop.

Thanks to the city’s final $500,000 investment, what started 30 years ago as a lively troupe of actors in a van touring Northern California schools will finally pull into its own state-of-the-art theater complex for children, at 27th and Capital. And many lives will be changed.

The city’s investment, although significant, is one of many. There have been hundreds of individual donations, corporate contributions, pro-bono services, and a bold and visionary gift from Sutter Health to complement the city’s final investment. An investment that is essential and timely.

Buck Busfield is B Street Theatre’s producing artistic director.