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East Hawaii Cultural Center to hit the road

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald From left, Sakura Yabuki, Aiki Bothell, Gabriella Tuson, RyAnne Raffipiy, Larry Reitzer and Sam Hall pose for a photo ojn Sept. 10 with Mayor Mitch Roth, center, before weeding grass at the location for a mobile theater stage outside East Hawaii Cultural Center.

Most live performances have ceased across the island, but art lovers are working to bring the theater to hungry audiences.

The East Hawaii Cultural Center has received a grant through AARP’s Livable Communities initiative, which will support “EHCC Out of Doors,” a project that will include the construction of a mobile, modular stage suitable for dramatic, musical and spoken art performances.

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With a trailer as its base, the stage is being designed to travel and will be a “theatre on wheels.”

EHCC and its resident director, Larry Reitzer, intend to bring programming to schools, parks, senior centers and care facilities, so that audiences unable to come to EHCC can still enjoy performances.

Reitzer was joined by art students and Mayor Mitch Roth for the official groundbreaking of the mobile stage, which will be constructed on an unused spot on the EHCC property.

“It’s important now more than ever to build an environment for kids to grow in and be proud of,” Roth said. “This stage can give kids an extra opportunity to use their artistic voices and creativity while creating memories for a lifetime.”

AARP allocated grants to seven Hawaii organizations, which is part of $3.2 million awarded among 244 organizations nationwide, the largest number of projects awarded to date as part of AARP’s Community Challenge grant program.

The East Hawaii Cultural Center is the only organization on the Big Island to receive the grant.

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“We are incredibly proud to collaborate with these organizations as they work to make immediate improvements in their communities, encourage promising ideas and jump-start long-term change, especially for those age 50 and over,” said Keali‘i Lopez, AARP Hawaii state director. “Our goal at AARP Hawaii is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities.”

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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