I recently attended one of the many tours and community meetings sponsored by the city of Pittsburg at the California Theatre. I was delighted to see the wonderful restoration of this beautiful lady. However, during the discussion, I was disturbed by one person's comment, "Why do we need another theater?" Unfortunately, I believe this opinion may be held by many residents of Pittsburg, so I would like to address it, if I may.

Nonprofits build social capital in a community. Social capital is the connection among diverse people, based on trust, that results in cooperation for mutual benefit.

Communities with social capital have a lower crime rate, better health, higher educational achievement and better economic growth. Ironically, this definition describes what theater does -- and community theater does it better.

Professional theater creates community and capital by hiring actors, stagehands, directors, producers and others. True they are diverse and establish trust to meet their goals, but it's a job. All participants have been trained and have had common experiences.

Community theater members, on the other hand, are completely diverse. Out front, the house staff are all volunteers, retirees, students and family members who usher, take tickets, greet patrons and promote theater because of their passion. A common group working on a common goal interacting with the audience, crew and actors.


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Backstage, performers and crew consist of retirees, college students, all races and sexual persuasions, young, old, healthy and challenged, working together for a common purpose. They connect with other groups -- lights, sound, actors, costumers, makeup artists -- to create the best show possible.

To me, this excitement and passion is the best creator of social capital I know. Let's put some of this capital in the bank for Pittsburg by supporting our local Pittsburg Community Theatre.

Betty L. Brown is the executive manager of the Pittsburg Community Theatre in Pittsburg.