Looks like supporting theatre pays off.
The Theatre and Dance department at the College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio has just given LGBTQ students a large check for supporting the arts.
Shirley Huston-Findley is the Professor of Theatre, and, according to the Wooster Voice, she came up with the idea of financially incentivizing audience members.
As Patrice Smith, the administrative coordinator for the department told the Voice, Huston-Findley “wanted to offer something substantial by reaching out to student groups and offering them $1,000 to bring as many people from their organization and guests to the theatre and dance productions.”
Four years ago, Shirley Huston-Findley created the Butt for Bucks program. In its inaugural year, the Theatre and Dance department offered $100 to the student organization that received the most votes at the fall production. Then, $200 was given in the winter and later $300 for the Spring Dance Concert. That year, attendance at the theatre and dance productions increased by 25 percent and continues to go up in its following years.
This year, the LGBTQ organization QPoC won all three incentives and an addition $1,000 prize.
Cesar Lopez, the co-President of QPoC, then spoke to the Wooster Voice about the club’s success.
“QPoC as an organization is small. So to have won overall by a landslide but also to have won the three incentives was very shocking, because it’s like, ‘who is actually voting?’” he said. “At events or at meetings, there isn’t a large turnout, but we understand that a lot of folks don’t have the time and have busy schedules, so that’s fine. But that’s why winning the overall thing and even the incentives was just a real big surprise, because there isn’t ever a large turnout to a lot of QPoC things.”
The College of Wooster in Wooster, Ohio is a fairly welcoming school to LGBTQ students. Since creating the John Plummer Memorial Scholarship back in 2008 for upperclassmen LGBTQ students, the college announced its plans to be as inclusive as possible.
“The College of Wooster, given our mission, should be a community of learners that models inclusiveness, and demonstrates to our larger society how people from diverse backgrounds and identities can draw upon diversity as a source of strength, inspiration, creativity, and the deep learning that comes from collaborating with others who see the world from different points of view,” he wrote.
“Of course, the college has not always lived up to these ideals, and does not even now. As an ideal, our goal is continually to aspire, to struggle, to move closer to its realization,” Cornwell continued.
Now, the school offers all-gender housing and has a few LGBTQ organizations like QPoC and the Queer Student Union. In addition, the school has a continued mission on sexuality & gender inclusion throughout the institution. As such, they offer safe zone training, have a Center for Diversity & Inclusion, and work on close communication between LGBTQ student groups and other organizations within the college.
And with moments like the support of both the arts and QPoC, it looks like the College of Wooster is staying the course on inclusivity within its hallowed halls.