Send Dion to Sight and Sound Conservatory!

Hello all! My name is Dion Castro, and I am a student of Sight and Sound Conservatory for their 2020-2022 two-year program! I am currently spending 22 months in Lancaster, PA, with the esteemed Sight and Sound Theatre performing before hundreds of thousands of people in their main-stage production for 2021, learning and being mentored directly from professionals in the theatre industry, and doing exactly what God has called me to do, sharing His Truth through the medium of theatre! 

I am here raising money for the purpose of funding my tuition and living expenses in order for me to partake in the program. This is a rather large goal that I cannot achieve on my own, so I am asking for your help! 

Many of you reading may be familiar with this process, but this time is a little bit different. So read very carefully to see exactly how you can support me as I raise funds for my journey to Sight and Sound! Skip ahead for the most updated information about how close I am to reaching my goals!

The Conservatory



First off, allow me to introduce you to the program itself. 

Sight & Sound Theatre accepts 10 students a year to be a part of their Conservatory( https://www.sight-sound.com/conservatory   ). The goal of the conservatory is to invest in the next generation of Christ-centered performing artists by mentoring them both as a performer and a disciple of Christ; with (1) classroom instruction in Acting, Singing, Dancing, and other relevant courses; (2) providing the opportunity to perform in Sight & Sound Theatres Professional Stage Productions; (3) cultivating a lifestyle of character, commitment, and competence.

The two-year long conservatory program features a variety of intensive classes including Improvisation, Voice and Speech, Singing for the Stage, Stage Combat, Musical Theatre Dance, and many more, in addition to a discipleship class that lasts for the duration of the program.

Applying what is taught in the classroom, the conservatory students will perform on the Sight & Sound stage as cast members alongside the professional cast in approximately ten shows a week! This not only strengthens skills, but helps students evaluate whether the theatre life is for them as they experience firsthand what it is like to be on stage doing the same show over and over again for months on end.

Due to the demands of the program, it will be impossible for me to work a job while performing in up to 10 shows a week and attending classes. I’m doing as much as I can to secure all the required funds, but this is where I need your support!

The Needs

As wonderful as the conservatory is, it costs a pretty penny to attend. And I would like to ask for your help in financing my time in PA. Allow me to break down exactly what the needs and financial goals for this fundraiser are.

As I mentioned briefly, the conservatory has switched to a TWO-YEAR program instead of a one-year program, which means the tuition will be twice as much as it was before. Additionally, my living expenses will be budgeted for two years. Unfortunately, Sight and Sound is unable to offer room and board for students, so I will need to find my own place in PA. The total cost of tuition for two years is $15,900, my estimated living costs for two years would be close to $20,000(based on $900 a month budget for 22 months). This equals about $38,000. Now, my current financial situation prevents me from being able to earn this money just from working multiple jobs. (Updated January 2021: As i mentioned earlier, I will be acting in Sight and Sounds main-stage production full-time and being a student full-time. This means I have no way of earning money on my own before the payments are due.) Even if I worked hard for the next few months, it would be unreasonable for me to try and earn all of this money before the program begins, so this is where you come in. 

I have broken these goals down to smaller, much more attainable goals:

My first goal is $8,000 for this first year of tuition. It is required that the first year of tuition be paid before beginning the program in September. This is my most important need, because if I do not have these funds, I cannot begin the program. This goal needs to be met by August 15th, 2020.

My second goal is $10,800 for living expenses for 1 year. At this time, I'm focusing on one year at a time. These living expenses include what would be needed for rent, gas, food, phone/car payments, and insurance, which could estimate around $800-$900 a month. This goal should be met by August 15th, 2020, but has no official end date.

***As of September of 2020 I have reached my first goal of $8,000, and have raised enough funds for around 9 months of living expenses! My next financial goals are similar to the first two.

My Third Goal is $8,000 for the second year of tuition. It is also required that the second year of tuition be paid before beginning the second year. This is due by mid-July. This is still the most important need, in the same way that I could not begin without tuition, I cannot finish the program without tuition. This goal needs to be met by June 15th 2021.

My Fourth and Final Goal is $13,500 for living expenses for 1 year and 3 months.  This is higher, simply because I only raised enough to take me through 9-10 months of living expenses. I currently have enough to take me until May of this year. These expenses are the same as before, I am operating on a $900 a month budget. $2,700(3 months expenses) should be met by May 1st, and the other $10,800 should be met by June 15th 2021, but again is open ended. 

You can donate right here on GoFundMe, or if you would like to donate directly via check or PayPal or Venmo, you can contact me and ask for that information privately.

In August 2020, I successfully hosted a benefit concert which helped tremendously in reaching these goals. This performance was recorded and will be available for purchase on-demand viewing. Also, my first solo album based on the concert, will be available for purchase and all proceeds will go directly towards reaching these goals. More information regarding these items will be made available shortly!

The Theatre



The Sight and Sound Conservatory is located near Lancaster, PA, in the heart of a region rich with prestigious theatres and theatre schools, and is associated with the renowned Sight and Sound Theatre, which has a location in PA as well as Branson, MO ( https://www.sight-sound.com/ )

For those of you not familiar with Sight and Sound Theatre, it is “where the Bible comes to life.” They produce high quality theatre based on stories and people from the Bible including Jonah, Noah, Moses, Queen Esther(currently playing through December!) and of course Jesus. It is an extremely popular tourist attraction and draws visitors from all over the US. The theatre in PA seats over 2000 people, has a 300 foot panoramic stage, state-of-the-art technology, and LIVE ANIMALS! It's an awe inspiring place. If you have never been there, I'd highly recommend adding it to your to-do list for 2020-2021.

**In the Age of Covid-19: Sight and Sound has also been diligent in keeping the theatre safe during the nationwide pandemic. They have reduced their seating capacity to about 25%, require masks inside the theatre, and actively clean and sanitize everything. They have worked closely with the local department of health to determine exactly what is required of them to operate, and the state of PA has allowed Sight and Sound to continue operating safely. The conservatory is just as diligent, and is more so even safer, with a 10-1 student/teacher ratio, we only interact in small groups of no more than 11 people at a time. Sight and Sound has been maintaining these standards since reopening in July of 2020, and will continue maintaining them until it is fully safe to operate otherwise!

The Artist



Finally, allow me to introduce myself.

I have been a "creative" since the day I was born. Performing in some way shape or form since the age of 7, I had the pleasure of performing for various Christian theatre groups in the Raleigh area, as well as singing in various choir performances with my church. I have led worship in many avenues since middle school and I continue to serve as a worship leader for my church’s college group. In middle school, I got involved in a Christian Youth Theatre called Spiritual Twist Productions, which had a very similar goal to Sight and Sound, proclaiming the message of Christ through theatre and teaching the Word of God to young people. This is where I discovered my passion for performing arts. I performed there for 8 years, and also interned and served as a musical director for 3 years.

When it came to pursuing theatre, my biggest inspiration was my best friend Wilson Brant. Wilson was just as passionate about theatre, if not more, than I. He had grand plans to build a community of passionate artists and believers to create great theatre. We shared the stage in many productions, including his final one, a musical comedy adaptation of The Three Musketeers, written by my friends and I. We were scheduled to have four performances, but on the morning of the third show, Wilson passed away unexpectedly in a car accident. The loss shocked us all in the cast, but by the grace of God and His provision, we were able to continue performing with an understudy, in his honor. After news spread of his death, many began to flock to our show and we had the opportunity to use a silly little comedy, to spread unexplainable joy to many who were grieving. God used that experience to show me the potential that theatre has to influence others for Christ and to share His love, and that’s what influenced my decision to pursue theatre as a profession. 

I was inspired to apply for Sight and Sound Conservatory because of several of my dearest friends, Ellie, Joey, and Andrew Faggion, as well as Zach Meeker, all of whom I grew up with, performed with, and have attended the conservatory before me. Through them, I got to see exactly how the Conservatory trains their students to take on the theatre industry with excellence. I also got to meet several former conservatory students, who have similar desires to pursue Christ and theatre. Some of them continue to work with Sight and Sound and others have gone on to other performing avenues. They have all borne witness to the excellence of this program as well as the effect it has had on their professional and spiritual lives. After much consideration and prayer, it was clear that Sight and Sound Conservatory would be the ideal place for me to grow as an artist and as a believer.

Conclusion

As I have said at the beginning of this letter, this is a huge goal I am undertaking. The numbers are very large, and very intimidating, but I have great faith that with your help, these needs can absolutely be met. Even a little can go a long way, so I hope you prayerfully consider exactly how you would like to support me in this opportunity. 

While the primary way you can support me is financially, you can also support me at no cost by praying for me. Some of you may understand the term “marketplace ministry”: using your work space as your mission field to spread the love and message of Jesus Christ. This is my heart as I prepare to go into a career in theatre. Jesus himself used stories to communicate his message. I plan to do the same, which is why I’m asking you to partner with me as I go down the path God has prepared for me.

Above all, I ask that you would pray that God provides for me as I prepare, and that He continues to be the one I perform for, wasting no opportunity to glorify Him. 

Thank you for taking the time to read, and may God bless you!

In Christ,

Dion Castro

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Organizer

Dion Castro 
Organizer
Bonsal, NC