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Corpus Christi’s Aurora Arts Theatre in Danger

A season full of promise for the Aurora Arts Theatre, which marked its 10th anniversary in 2020, has turned into a fight for the community theater’s life. The reason: COVID-19. The hoped-for solution: a GoFundMe account to raise $50,000.

“I would say 100 percent of our financial troubles are caused by COVID-19,” said Mary Chapa, the theater's executive director. “When the pandemic first started, I didn’t think it would make such a huge global impact. I thought we would bounce back from it immediately.”

Low audience turnout in the past always brought the community together to raise money for the theater for it to eventually break even.

“Because audience capacity is reduced, meaning we can only seat 30 people versus 110, we are losing 70 percent of our revenue,” Chapa said. “That’s not enough to keep moving forward.”

Chapa and her staff have raised money through curbside popcorn events, T-shirt sales, Cinema Nights, and limited productions, but the theater still struggles to cover its mounting monthly expenses. Now, it has an online GoFundMe page, where supporters can send direct donations.

“As the funds come in, we will start putting the money to use to keep the doors open, pay for our lease, electric bills, and other basic expenses,” Chapa said. “The goal amount of $50,000 is what we need to help keep us going at least until January.”

By then, the theater can reevaluate the situation.

“It’s hard to plan when you don’t know how the world will be during that time,” Chapa continued. “The only thing I know for sure is that I don’t know what the future holds.”

Aurora Arts Theatre was founded in 2010 by Mary’s husband, Eddie Chapa, who died in 2011. He named it after her mother, Aurora Chapa Taylor.

Opening a community theater was Eddie Chapa’s longtime dream.

“I found comfort in knowing the happiness that the theater brought to his life,” Mary Chapa said. “While I felt the overwhelming love of Eddie’s family and my own, I soon realized I had yet another family I could turn to: my theater family.”

For Chapa, the theater is a refuge for art lovers seeking solace, cheer, and a sense of belonging.

“When we produce a play or a musical, we instantly become a part of something much bigger than the production itself,” she said. “Whether it be watching or participating in a play, volunteering, or simply having conversations across the concession counter with our great volunteers, the Aurora certainly satisfies a need."

The theater is a safe space where everyone who enters feels right at home, Chapa said.

“We are always honored and privileged when you, our community, include us in your special moments such as weddings, baptismal celebrations, birthdays, graduations, etcetera,” Chapa said. “We look forward to being able to share those celebrations and experiences once again.”

Meanwhile, the Aurora Arts Theatre will continue its fundraising events with a theater rummage sale of costumes, props, and fabric — just in time for Halloween. All proceeds will go toward day-to-day operations.

A new production, “Love Letters,” presented by Snyder & Associates, runs two consecutive weekends, Sept. 11-12 and 18-19, with a limited audience at 30 percent capacity. Tickets are selling quickly, Chapa said, which can only help keep the doors open until COVID-19 is no longer a threat to the community.

“Please know that any contribution is greatly appreciated and will be used to help keep our doors open,” she continued. “We look forward to the day when we can once again call ‘Places!’ and experience the wonder of live theater. My husband would be proud.”

Aurora Arts Theatre is located at 5635 Everhart Road in Corpus Christi. Like its Facebook page to keep up with the latest productions and fundraisers.

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