To provide affordable arts instruction and performances and develop artistic and life skills for youth.
Augusta Mini Theatre, Inc., Augusta, Georgia’s first community arts school to focus on multi-art disciplines, under one roof, was founded on October 8, 1975, by Tyrone J. Butler as a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency. Although offerings are relevant and open to the total community, the Mini Theatre, for the past forty years, has filled a void by giving special attention to the artistic needs of the area’s historically under served. And because of that, no student has ever been turned away from our classes or performances because of the inability to pay. Over the years, thousands of persons have benefited from our programs and services.
Free classes and performances, for the first five years, were conducted at the Wallace Branch Library of Richmond County and other venues. The arts school became very popular in surrounding rural communities as well. A dance program was started in Burke County (Waynesboro, Georgia) and performances and workshops were presented to rural audiences throughout our thirteen-county area. Also, our drama students toured youth prisons in Georgia for ten consecutive years.
Many of our performances, since 1975, are original plays are still dealing with such life skill issues as the importance of education, consequences of alcohol and drug use and pre-marital sex, moving beyond a negative environment, making positive choices, pre-employment and employment skills, anger management, self-esteem building, etc.
Mariah McKie Butler Memorial College Book Scholarship was established in 1984. Students enrolled in The Mini Theatre four or more years consecutively, receive up to $400 per year for four years. More than seventy-five (75) students have been awarded the scholarship totaling more than $60,000.
Also, over a ten year period, we raised more than $3,000,000 to build a 9,333 square foot community arts school (Phase I) at 2548 Deans Bridge Road in Augusta that sits on eleven acres. The construction was completed and we moved in September of 2008. The arts school, state of the art, handicapped accessible, includes offices, five studios (dance, piano, visual arts, violin and drama) including the James Brown Music Wing, and a media center (Homework lab).
The Arts School was built, from the ground, with public and private dollars.
Finally, the Mini Theatre and its staff have received numerous honors and awards including: “Women of Excellence” (Girls Scouts of the CSRA) in 1991 (Judith Simon-Butler), and Greater Augusta Arts Council Artist Award in 2000 (Judith Simon—Butler); The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1984 (Georgia Council for the Arts); Best Actor in 1989 (Georgia Theatre Conference); Greater Augusta Arts Council Artist Award in 1993 (Tyrone J. Butler).
Our history has been so rich in the quality of our administrative and artistic staff, the waiting list, at times, has been three to five years long, and our alumni are professional working artists, lawyers in Los Angeles and New York, school teachers, plumbers, pilots, etc. Because of programs and services, during the Mini Theatre’s 40 year history, no student, enrolled in the Mini Theatre, for 4 or more years, has ever dropped out of school and only one student has become pregnant and one ran afoul of the law.
Our main staff, the founder, Tyrone J. Butler, artistic director/drama instructor/director of plays, Judith Simon-Butler, and executive assistant, Earnestine M. Robinson, has been with the Mini Theatre since its inception in 1975.
Augusta Mini Theatre Community Arts & Life Skills School is an equal opportunity arts and life skills school and does not discriminate.