The nonprofit organization, Tustin Area Council of Fine Arts (TACFA), held a 100-person dinner on March 8 for their sponsors where they laid out plans for their mid-summer event, Broadway in the Park. This annual production features a professional cast offering affordable Broadway musical theater to residents. The team unveiled they were about to begin production for the beloved classic, The Wizard of Oz; however, due to COVID-19, these plans would soon be dashed.
"For the next month, we all carried a sickening feeling waiting to see what would happen next,” TACFA Board President Tony Wong said. “We thought the situation would be fine by the show’s premiere in August, but by mid-May, we made the difficult decision to cancel the show for everyone’s safety."
With an all-volunteer staff, TACFA has been enriching the Tustin community through the creative arts since 1992 with annual musicals, concerts, art walks and cultural education. TACFA showcases the importance of the arts and recognizes youths through scholarships and student art showcases.
“We don’t just do one type of art, we try to be very broad and make an impact in the lives of kids who want to be creative,” Wong said. “Kids look forward to this part of their day. How do you put a price tag on that?”
Its signature program, Broadway in the Park, spans five days of performances and has at least 80 volunteers to keep the show running smoothly. Wong first got involved with TACFA as a Broadway in the Park volunteer because of his daughter. That was around the time he started to understand the community value of the arts.
"I'm an immigrant in the tech field, and it wasn’t until my daughter got involved in theater that I started understanding the value of the arts," Wong said. "The more I was exposed to it, [the more] I realized it made me better—even in the way I presented at work. If it weren’t for the arts, I wouldn't be as creative of a person."
It's this tie between the arts and innovation that makes TACFA's programming for underprivileged youth so important. Wong went on to be a four-year board member and is now half-way through his two-year term as Board President of TACFA.
As a grassroots nonprofit organization, TACFA's lean operating budget of $40,000 goes a long way in the community. Without salaries to pay, all donations go straight to programming, art academies and student showcases, as well as other community organizations dedicated to the arts.
"We directly impact 10,000 kids and Tustin residents. Close to 20,000 residents are impacted indirectly," Wong said.
Since so much of arts programming is delivered in-person and through public schools, gathering restrictions from COVID-19 have altered the type of creative art TACFA can support. With the loss of revenue from ticket sales for in-person events, ongoing sponsorships and donations, the organization has shifted its efforts to more community marketing and virtual programming.
"We had to rethink the way we look at funding," Wong said. "It’s been challenging, but we’ve been fortunate. We’ve had generous sponsors and donors who allowed us to roll over their donations to next year, and we’ve raised a lot from online silent auctions.”
Even during a pandemic, TACFA is pushing forward with its goal of bringing the arts to the greater Tustin area. The organization is pivoting and mapping out ways to keep youth art enrichment going. Since March, the organization has provided college scholarships to eight students, hosted a face mask design contest for residents in the community and has even thrown around ideas for a master class featuring a world-class violinist.
TACFA is committed to being a beacon of art and opportunity for the Tustin area.
"We want to get back to work and provide arts education in the community again,” Wong said. “We want to thrive and we want to be agents of joy again in our community."
TACFA is a client of CB&T. To help maintain the cultural vitality and enriching art programs in Tustin, donate to TACFA at tacfa.org/donate. [cite::171::cite] [cite::172::cite]