School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community (SPARC)
2106-A North Hamilton Street
Richmond VA 23230
Contact Information
Address 2106-A North Hamilton Street
Richmond, VA 23230
Telephone 804 353-3393
Fax 804 359-9045
Web and Social Media
Setting the Stage for Life Since 1981
SPARC's In-School Program in one of its final performances
The STAGES program reaches over 1,000 students in and around Richmond each year.
Mission Statement SPARC inspires young people (ages 3-18) to reach their full potential through quality training in the performing arts. SPARC develops life skills among young performers, preparing them for productive lives and leadership.
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Ryan T. Ripperton
Board Chair Ronald I Felmus
Board Chair Company Affiliation Laffer Investments
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 1981
Financial Summary
Projected Revenue $1,870,723.00
Projected Expenses $1,870,723.00
Mission SPARC inspires young people (ages 3-18) to reach their full potential through quality training in the performing arts. SPARC develops life skills among young performers, preparing them for productive lives and leadership.
Background Founded by Jeri Cutler-Voltz in 1981, SPARC has enjoyed over three decades of continuous growth.  What began in a home on the south side of Richmond soon became a network of instructional locations spread throughout the Richmond community.  In 2008, SPARC moved into its permanent facility at 2106 North Hamilton Street, which now houses its black box theater, instructional spaces, and administrative offices.  SPARC continues to offer classes in satellite locations throughout the community and provides free performing arts training in many area schools.

Accomplishments in 2013:

While there are many SPARC successes to share from the classroom and the community, one occurrence this year rises to the top when thinking about SPARC’s future. During Fiscal Year 2013, SPARC received its two largest-ever gifts — $1.5 million from an anonymous donor, and $500,000 from the Stanley and Kim Markel Memorial Fund of the Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia. These two gifts, both for SPARC’s capital campaign, allowed SPARC to achieve debt-free ownership of our home, The SPARC Center on North Hamilton Street.
This achievement has opened a wave of creative conversation about the future of SPARC — its programs, its people, and its facilities. We are just months away from publishing a new multi-year strategic plan for SPARC, mapping out how we aim to profoundly influence the lives of the next generation of students in our community. Also, we will soon unveil the plans for a major renovation to The SPARC Center, maximizing accessibility and accommodating up to three times as many students as we can today.
Goals for Next Year:
  1. Continue to sustain & forward fund STAGES, SPARC’s in-school outreach, to maximize improvement in student performance on the Virginia Oral Language Standards of Learning.
  2. Fully integrate the  LIVE ART program (an inclusive program for students with and without disabilities) into SPARC’s permanent program mix, and continue to expand the students served in this program.
  3. Continue growth in enrollment and financial aid available, maximizing the number of students in our community who can access the invaluable life lessons SPARC provides, including confidence, creativity, problem solving, and responsibility.
  4. Increase participation and the programmatic value of the New Voices for the Theater program (statewide high school playwriting competition/residency) through expanded resources and support for high school drama and English faculty.
  5. Complete renovation of The SPARC Center, adding universal access to all facilities and 2 more educational studios on the campus.

  1. STAGES provides valuable performing arts education to socially disadvantaged youth in underserved communities and economically impacted neighborhoods, providing universal access to a vital discipline that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to explore. STAGES provides in-school performing arts education for 2nd and 3rd grade students in 8 schools in the City of Richmond and Henrico County. Two new schools identified for STAGES, Westover Hills Elementary School and Chimborazo Elementary School, reflect an average of 35% population below poverty level and a range of special challenges. STAGES integrates the experience of students, schools and communities with arts education that positively impacts academic achievement and life skills. STAGES operates on a forward funded budget of $130,000 from community contributions.

  2. SPARC is $750,000 away from wrapping up a $6M campaign to set the trajectory for its future impact in the community. This campaign will provide for the permanent ownership of the SPARC Center, the addition of several instructional spaces accessible to people with disabilities.

  3. Operating Support – Almost 60% of SPARC’s budget comes from contributions for purposes including outreach programs and financial aid. 


Areas of Service
Areas Served
Metro Richmond
Richmond, City
Chesterfield County
Henrico County
Hanover County
The bulk of SPARC's programs serve the populations of the City of Richmond and counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Goochland, and Amelia. The New Voices for the Theater program, SPARC's acclaimed high school playwrighting competition and residency, is a statewide program and experiences participation from every corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Board Chair
Board Chair Ronald I Felmus
Company Affiliation Laffer Investments
Term Jan 2015 to Dec 2017
Board of Directors
Board Members
Pam Belleman Troutman Sanders
Ram Bhagat Richmond Public Schools
Chris Carlisle St. Catherine's School
Rejena Carreras Carreras Ltd.
Kathy Mays Coleman National Center for State Courts
David Crank Community Volunteer/Set & Costume Director
Ronald I. Felmus Laffer Investments
Sarah Hopkins Finley VA Council on Economics Education
Thomas Gay BMG Metals
Marc Greenberg Blackwood Development Company
Lynn C. Greer Brown Greer PLC
Jill Bussey Harris Beautiful Smiles Dentistry
Trina Lee CarMax
Joel Martinez Capital One
Maureen Matsen Christopher Newport Univeristy
Teri C. Miles Va. State Attorney General Office
Sara J. Mooney CPA
Katherine Noel Altria
Sakina Paige Wells Fargo/Early Dispute Resolutiion
Todd Stanley Royall & Company
Thomas Topinka Genworth
Mabel G. Wells VCU & Richmond Public Schools Retired
Angie Williams SunTrust
Patrick Williams Williams & Sherrill
Fred Wood Dominion
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 5
Asian American/Pacific Islander 1
Caucasian 17
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 10
Female 15
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Meeting Attendance % 80
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 80
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 6
Standing Committees
Board Governance
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Strategic Planning / Strategic Direction
Capital Campaign
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Mr. Ryan T. Ripperton

Ryan T. Ripperton has served as SPARC’s executive director since March 2010. His selection for this position resulted from a nine-month nationwide search. Since his arrival, participation in SPARC's enrollment-based classes has risen by 70%.

Prior to moving to Richmond to work for SPARC, Ripperton was executive director of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, the nationwide men’s music fraternity, headquartered in Evansville, Indiana. He also served as chief operating officer of the Fraternity’s related foundation, the Sinfonia Educational Foundation. Through 11 years of service to these organizations, he advanced the operational, financial and governance practices, increased the quality of print and electronic communications, and heavily influenced several successful programs, including the expansion and retreat programs. He was instrumental in the reformation of the Foundation’s name and mission, and participated heavily in reshaping the Fraternity’s vision and strategic plan as it regained its footing as America’s premier music fraternity.

Ripperton holds a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) from the University of Southern Indiana and a Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.Ed.) from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Since relocating to Richmond, he has become involved in the area arts community, including the CenterStage Resident Company Association and the Alliance for the Performing Arts.

Former CEOs
Jennie Brown June 1998 - June 2009
Jeri Cutler-Voltz Jan 1981 - May 1998
Senior Staff
Candace Mraz Director of Development
Hunter Parker Director of Education - Training
Erin Thomas-Foley Director of Education - Outreach
Full Time Staff 4
Part Time Staff 52
Volunteers 35
Contractors 2
Retention Rate 100
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 3
Date Strategic Plan Adopted May 2014
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures No
Nondiscrimination Policy Under Development
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes

SPARC operates classes during school hours, after school, and on weekends. Many classes are held at the SPARC Center on N. Hamilton Street, as well as at satellite locations around the Richmond area. We generally follow the schedules of area school semesters.


SPARC classes follow a conservatory format of acting, stage movement, theater dance, singing, and voice for the stage, and are designed to expand the actor's range.


Classes are for youth aged 3 to 18 and include the following:

  • SPARC PLUGS (ages 3-4), MINI-SPARC (ages 5-6) and RISING STARS (ages 7-8) are introductory classes, teaching readiness skills through stage movement, theater games, and children's songs.
  • The CORE (ages 9-15) and ADVANCED CORE (ages 15-18) programs includes singing, acting, and dance in each 2.25 hour class session. Improvisation and scripted material are used in teaching foundation skills. Audition techniques are taught.
  • STUDIO and STUDIO, Jr. classes (ages 10-18) are for teens and pre-teens with a serious interest in acting performance.
  • REHEARSAL & PRODUCTION classes (ages 8-18) are audition-based classes that build toward a fully staged performance of a theatrical work at the end of the term.
SPARC also offers a variety of ancillary courses, including theatre tech and specialty workshops in aspects of the performing arts. SPARC offers an extensive financial aid program, awarding over $25,000 in tuition waiver and reduction each year.

SPARC offers full- and part-day camps and programs throughout the summer for ages 5 to 18:


  • SUMMER STOCK is an audition-based, intensive 6-week process culminating with major productions while students also learn the technical support elements of producing theatre.
  • SUMMERSTARZ is an audition-based performing arts touring ensemble.
  • SPARCLERS, BRAVO!, and August Adventure are 2-4 week theatre camps for elementary and middle school students.
  • Summer Studio is a process-oriented intensive in acting, writing, and design for high school aged students.
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Budget $181,000.00

SPARC’s in-school outreach  enrichment classes serve almost 1,000 students each year in 8 schools and community centers. Classes allow area children throughout Richmond the opportunity to try their hand at performing arts. These readiness classes allow young people to develop socialization skills while learning basic performer skills. Thanks to generous foundation, corporate, government and individual support, STAGES programs are offered free to participants in underserved neighborhoods.

Population Served Children Only (5 - 14 years)
Budget $130,000.00

The acclaimed New Voices for the Theater program expands SPARC’s reach statewide. This program accepts submissions of one-act plays from high school students throughout Virginia, providing them professional adjudication and inviting the top eight student playwrights to Richmond for a two-week residency. During the residency, the students work with a professional playwright to hone their skills and then work with a professional team of directors and actors to have their plays read in front of a live audience.

Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Budget $50,000.00
Description LIVE ART is a groundbreaking new performing arts education program that unites students with and without disabilities in inclusive classroom experiences.  The program culminates with a major public performance featuring all students performing alongside renowned professional musicians.
Population Served K-12 (5-19 years)
Budget $460,000.00
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $1,870,723.00
Projected Expenses $1,870,723.00
Endowment Value $225,000.00
Spending Policy Percentage
Percentage (if selected) 5
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Revenue SourcesHelpThe financial analysis involves a comparison of the IRS Form 990 and the audit report (when available) and revenue sources may not sum to total based on reconciliation differences. Revenue from foundations and corporations may include individual contributions when not itemized separately.
Fiscal Year201320122011
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
Government Contributions$0$0$0
Individual Contributions$2,774,112$1,122,985$553,384
Investment Income, Net of Losses$9,862$6,506$13,235
Membership Dues------
Special Events------
Revenue In-Kind$6,005$6,527$7,735
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201320122011
Program Expense$1,028,572$1,015,834$714,808
Administration Expense$170,789$105,390$297,011
Fundraising Expense$200,484$187,106$177,203
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses2.421.180.90
Program Expense/Total Expenses73%78%60%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue7%17%32%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201320122011
Total Assets$3,231,266$2,830,741$2,747,850
Current Assets$533,316$318,281$307,025
Long-Term Liabilities------
Current Liabilities$167,031$1,748,662$1,911,437
Total Net Assets$3,064,235$1,082,079$836,413
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201320122011
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities3.190.180.16
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201320122011
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? Yes
Campaign Purpose Thirty years ago, Jeri Cutler-Voltz followed her dream and called students and faculty together for the first SPARC class. In 1981, no one could have imagined the ecstatic growth and vitality SPARC is experiencing today. Having directly served over 15,000 students, and now reaching more than 2,300 more each year, SPARC has achieved a high level of educational and operational maturity. In 2008, SPARC announced a vision that will carry on the SPARC legacy for generations to come. To fulfill that vision, a transformative $6M capital campaign has been underway for facilities, program and outreach, and endowment. In 2012, SPARC received the two largest capital campaign gifts in its 32-year history: $500,000 from the Steven and Katherine Markel Foundation, and $1.5 million from an anonymous donor. With these gifts, SPARC completed the purchase of the SPARC Center at 2106 N. Hamilton Street and entered the final phase of the campaign. In order to complete our vision, SPARC has a critical need to add two more instructional studios, which will double the number of students served on campus, and establish an endowment for our future. For 27 years, SPARC operated a tiny, transitory administrative office and network of leased or borrowed instructional spaces. SPARC was a “program” but never a “place.” To support its leadership role in arts education in Richmond and to continue evolving in its service to young people, SPARC needed a home. That home was found at 2106 North Hamilton Street, in Scott’s Addition, a neighborhood in rapid redevelopment. The facilities were seemingly perfect, with a modest-sized administrative area, potential spaces for future multiple instructional studios, and a former taxi garage just right for repurposing as an innovative educational theater. Conveniently located at the crossroads of I-95, I-64, and the Powhite Parkway, and accessible by public transportation, the SPARC Center began its transformation in May 2008. Renovation and upfitting of the administrative offices, one instructional studio and dedication of the state of the art Sara Belle November Educational Theater was complete in November 2011. The final phase of the vision calls for adding two more instructional studios, fully renovating the Lobby and 2nd floor of the SPARC Center and provide accessibility to programs, productions and technical learning opportunities. Capital needs total $1.7 million. Distinctive naming and commemorative opportunities are available. Over $1,000,000 in initial capital campaign contributions have been restricted to diversifying and expanding program offerings in performing arts; developing programs providing performance opportunities for students with disabilities; increasing enrollment and expanding outreach in schools; and reaching new populations and audiences throughout the region and state. Outcomes are already evident – enrollment this year is up 32% over last; local outreach is now in 8 sites across regional elementary and middle schools and neighborhoods; and 40% more high school students across Virginia participate in New Voices for the Theater. Additionally, as SPARC’s student body grows, it must also increase financial aid in order to assure that no child is denied the opportunity for a SPARC experience because of an inability to afford tuition. To supplement existing modestly endowed scholarship funds, the SPARC Board of Director’s established a General Endowment Fund to help ensure the mission and program in the future. The General Endowment Fund will be the major force in sustaining programs, outreach, facilities, financial aid and operations – while supporting new performing arts education initiatives as the future unfolds. The campaign aims to raise $500,000 to expand The General Endowment Fund. SPARC’s first campaign has successfully entered its final phase to address the estimated $6,000,000 required to purchase, renovate and equip SPARC’s home; to expand and enhance program offerings and performance opportunities; and to establish an endowment fund. More than $4,900,000 has been secured in lead gifts. Early campaign success is due in large measure to five challenge grants: • A challenge from the Rosenthal and Belleman family to secure 100% of the Board of Directors in personal commitments. • An unprecedented 2- to-1, $250,000 challenge grant from The Cabell Foundation in 2009 and second 1- to-1, $250,000 challenge grant in 2013. • An extraordinary 2- to-1 $300,000 challenge from Neil and Sara Belle November. • An anonymous 2- to-1 challenge for the Board of Directors to establish the General Endowment Fund.
Goal $6,000,000.00
Dates June 2009 to Dec 2015
Amount Raised To Date $5,250,000.00
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 7/2014View
Foundation Comments
  • Financial information provided from audit
  • Form 990 and audit prepared by Lane & Associates, PC