Montford Park Players announces Challenge Grant for amphitheater accessibility

Press release from Montford Park Players: 

Montford Park Players, an Asheville theatrical tradition, has a mission to make Shakespeare and classical theater accessible to all. Recently, an anonymous donor pledged up to $25,000 to match any funds that the 45-year-old, not-for-profit theater can generate, in order to brick and pave areas of the Hazel Robinson Amphitheatre. The Accessible Parking Lot Project will create pathways, literal and figurative, to those with special needs, and allow wheelchairs easy access to the seating area.

The Accessible Parking Lot Project has long been a part of MPPs plans for Amphitheatre upgrades, and will be a first step in moving those plans forward. As Montford Managing Director John Russell says, “This one project will finally make this area of the park ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant. Once that happens, we can be fast-tracked for permitting regarding the many other improvements we have planned here.” He also added, “Not charging for tickets has already made our programming affordable for all. Now it will finally be accessible to all.”

The Challenge Grant was proposed by said anonymous donor and coincides with the immediate plans of local Eagle Scout Collins Wyatt. Wyatt is a rising Senior at Reynolds High School and regular performer in productions at HART and Asheville Community Theatre, as well as a member of the Teen Advisory Board at Attic Salt Theatre Company. When a relative recently needed help getting around, this member of Boy Scout Troop 40 knew he wanted to do something that would “make the biggest difference possible to as many people as I could.” It was then that he proposed to the staff of Montford Park Players that he and his troop volunteer their time toward paving part of the Amphitheatre.

A better match could not have been formed with plans already on the books to dedicate a section of the Amphitheatre to those with accessibility issues. Therefore, Montford Park is launching a fundraising effort to respond to the $25,000 Challenge, ultimately heading toward a $100,000 goal to add six designated handicap parking spots, a retaining wall, a paved access road and pathway to the theatre.

A workday led by Wyatt and Russell will be held this Saturday, October 5, from 9am to 3pm, to begin the process of adding brick pavers to the second terrace at the Helen Robinson Amphitheatre. Immediately following the work will be a “Pizza and Beer Reception” to thank the volunteers and to allow the Press to meet the key players in this great effort.

Montford Park Players, has been presenting Shakespeare and other classical works to the Asheville community since 1973, and has since grown to be one of Western North Carolina’s most beloved and well-known cultural attractions.

For more information or to donate, please call John Russell, Managing Director at (828) 254-5146.

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