The Benson Foundation for the Arts (BFA) was formed with the support of the Benson town government. The first project of this group was the revitalization of the Benson High School Auditorium, which had been closed to the public since 1981. The goal of that project was to provide a facility that would accommodate the cultural and civic needs of the area. By renovating the auditorium, BFA helped to preserve a historical structure which holds a warm spot in the heart of the community. A not-for-profit status was granted in 1989. With the aid of grant monies, and many caring and generous citizens, the W.J. Barefoot Auditorium was dedicated in the fall of 1993.
Two years later the Patron’s room was dedicated where portraits of leading contributors were hung. In 1997, a Benson Foundation for the Arts committee was appointed to organize the first Children’s Summer Theatre Workshop. A BFA committee was selected in 1999 to organize a community theatre group. The first Benson Little Theatre production was “Lil’ Abner” in the spring of 2000.
Through the years, BFA has sponsored Springer Theatre productions, Swing Music Concert, 82nd Airborne All American Chorus, Gospel Singspiration, and other concerts as well as musical reviews featuring local performing artist in addition to the Benson Little Theatre productions which include
A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody, The Sound of Music, Steel Magnolias, The King And I, A Salute to Hee-Haw, Smoke of the Mountain, Annie Get Your Gun, You're A Good Man Charlie Brown, High School The Musical, Oliver!, Oklahoma!, Benson's Got Talent, Cinderella, Annie, Gypsy, 9 to 5 and many more.
Benson Foundation for the Arts, is a member of the Johnston County Arts Council, the Benson Chamber of Commerce and sponsors a scholarship each year to a South Johnston senior pursuing a career in performing or visual arts. BFA has been a contributing sponsor for music concerts at the Grove and local high school band events. Recently Benson Foundation for the Arts purchased new sound, lighting and media equipment, as well as a new back stage curtain for W.J. Barefoot Auditorium.
Benson Foundation for the Arts gratefully acknowledges all who have given their time, expertise and financial gifts to offer a lasting investment in the quality of life and cultural growth of this community. We also thank those past and present who have served on the BFA Board of Directors. Your support and participation will continue to be instrumental in ensuring the future success of Benson Foundation for the Arts.
Board of Directors
Anthony Angelico-Ivey: Chairman
Loretta Byrd: Treasurer
Hannah Jernigan: Secretary