Kristin Garot has planned a big party for her 40th on Friday, complete with a live band and 40-artist auction at the Juneau Arts & Culture Center.
But instead of celebrating herself, she’ll be honoring Bethany Bereman, an influential member of Juneau’s arts community who died in 2011. Garot planned the party to help kick off fundraising for a youth theater scholarship Garot established in Bereman’s name, the Bethany Bereman Memorial Scholarship fund.
“It will be in her name, and it will be a nice way to keep her memory alive,” Garot said. “Theater was an important part of her life, not just as a high school teacher but in her professional life, for a long time.”
Garot said the milestone birthday seemed like a good time to pursue an idea she’d been contemplating for several years, adding that the JAHC, who will oversee the scholarship, is also 40 this year.
Bereman, a Juneau resident for more than 20 years, was very active in the local theater community, both as an actor and as drama teacher at JDHS. Garot created the scholarship to continue the spirit of Bereman’s work in the community in her absence.
“She was such an advocate for kids, not just theater kids but kids in general, and really wanted to help them out,” Garot said.
Garot herself is also a strong advocate for local youth. At the beginning of the school year, the former Thunder Mountain High School drama and English teacher took on three new roles: she is now principal of both Yaakoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School and Montessori Borealis, and she heads up Juneau’s HomeBridge program. She also makes time to support the theatrical arts in the high schools, by helping out with auditions or urging Yaakoosgé students to get involved in JDHS or TMHS productions, for example.
With the fundraiser, Garot hopes to raise enough money to be able to establish the scholarship for a handful of years without having to raise money every time it comes up.
“My goal is to raise $10,000 between now and June — the scholarships are awarded in the spring — and have it be sustaining for a few years,” she said. “And then I can try to figure out how to keep it going.”
The scholarship is geared toward older high school and beginning college students who have already established an interest in the theater. It can be used to pursue any aspect of theater from acting to directing to design. She expects it will be about $500 to $800 annually.
Garot said currently there are no designated scholarship for serious theater students.
“There are some scholarships tagged for different things but there is nothing specifically for theater arts,” she said.
Garot will funnel the money into the fund, and the JAHC will be in charge of selecting and distributing the funds along with the other scholarships they manage, such as the Mac Behrends Creative Writing scholarship and Sitka Fine Arts Camp scholarship.
Bereman got involved in theater when she was in high school in Anchorage. She arrived in Juneau in 1985, the year she finished studying acting at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Later she received her master’s degree in theatrical production from Central Washington University. Her first show in Juneau was Perseverance Theatre’s “Lady Lou Review” in 1985. In the years that followed, she acted in many local productions with Perseverance, Juneau Douglas Little Theater, Juneau Lyric Opera and Theater in the Rough. Beginning in 1999, she headed up the theater program at Juneau Douglas High School, a position she held for eight years. Garot first worked with her there, on a production of “Holes” in 2006.
Garot said Bereman’s husband, John Hickey, and daughter, Jade “Susu” Bereman, who live in Washington state, are expected to attend the party.
Those who can’t make Friday’s event but are interested in supporting the project can donate through the JAHC’s website at bit.ly/beremanscholarship.
Artists who have agreed to donate their work to the live auction during Friday’s event include Rob Roys, Rico Worl, Cristine Crooks, and JDHS graduate Dawson Walker, among many others. Also available at the auction will be tickets to local performances, such as Perseverance Theater productions, bed and breakfast stays and more.
The auction will run simultaneously with the Gallery Walk openings at the JACC, and continue through about 8 p.m. Beginning at 7 p.m., Susu and the Prophets will perform in the main hall. There is no cover charge, but donations toward the scholarship are encouraged.
For more on Friday’s event, visit www.facebook.com/bethanyberemanscholarship.
For more on the JAHC’s scholarship program, visit http://jahc.org/scholarships-and-grants.