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THANKS TO VOLUNTEERS, THE SHOWS GO ON

As the actors prepped in the green room, the people behind the scenes took center stage.

Before the curtain went up on the Largo Cultural Center summer camp's production of Cinderella Kids on Friday, Partners N Progress for the Arts held its President's Awards banquet.

Judith Hall, president of the group, held court in the Parkview Room, across the hall from the Tonne Playhouse. She thanked the gathering, which included 150 donors and theater volunteers, for their contributions to Partners N Progress, the all-volunteer organization set up in 1998 to provide fundraising to the Largo Cultural Center.

"Our goal is to support and produce the performing arts,'' she said. "It has not been easy in the last few years due to the difficult economy, and we appreciate all the support we've received from you.''

Hall also recognized three longtime volunteers with the President's Awards, which included a trophy and a spot on the Partners N Progress Walk of Fame located outside near the box office. Recipients of the awards:

-Betsy Byrd, business manager for Eight O'Clock Theatre.

-Betty Laing, volunteer coordinator for the Largo Cultural Center.

-Donna Seaman, the box office manager.

"I got to handpick these three people,'' Hall said. "And I couldn't have done my job without them.''

Partners N Progress also gave an award to the Cultural Center: a $20,000 check.

"This is earmarked for the 2010-11 season of the Family and Children's series,'' Hall said. "It's very important to cultivate Largo Cultural Center's next generation of patrons.''

According to Rob Mondora, artistic supervisor for the city of Largo, the hefty donation will provide funding for the entire series, which includes six shows.

"It's great to know that we don't have to worry about the money for this now,'' Mondora said. "Because of budget cuts, we do not have a development director on staff anymore, and this means that I depend on Partners N Progress more than ever before.''

Partners N Progress also provided 17 scholarships to children needing financial assistance to attend the theater camp.

A few minutes before 8 p.m., the Partners in Progress dinner guests were directed to their seats for the summer camp performance.

"We like having the President's Awards banquet tonight, during the children's show,'' Hall said. "You can witness firsthand your dollars in action.''

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About Partners N Progress for Arts

Partners N Progress for the Arts Inc. was incorporated in 1985. It is dedicated to perpetuating and producing the performing arts to benefit the Largo Cultural Center. To make donations, send checks to Partners N Progress for the Arts, P.O. Box 1030, Largo, FL 33779.

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One more camp

The Largo Cultural Center will hold one more summer camp. Students ages 12-18 are invited to register for the three-week camp, based on the musical Annie.

Campers will be trained in acting, dance, improvisation, pantomime and stage direction. The camp begins July 26. Final performances of the show will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 13 and 11 a.m. Aug. 14.

To register or for more information about the camp, visit LargoCamps.com or call (727) 587-6751.

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