Community Forklift provided the backdrop for exciting programming and shows from GALA Theatre, one of the most vibrant arts groups in the Washington, DC area.

GALA (Grupo de Artistas LatinoAmericanos) Hispanic Theatre is a National Center for Latino Performing Arts group located right in Washington, DC. This group brings Latino arts to audiences who are both steeped in the culture as well as those who are experiencing the beauty and diversity of Hispanic heritage for the first time. Live theater, dance, and musical productions are performed in both Spanish and English, and GALA Theatre provides the space and expertise for education and enrichment in addition to entertainment.

But putting on these impressive shows and programming can be costly. Often, we think of the lighting, venue, advertising, staff, and other large expenses when it comes to running a theater company, but the cost of the set itself can be significant.

That’s why GALA applied to Community Forklift’s Community Building Blocks (CBB) program. This grant allowed them to bring their set to life for programs, plays, GALita children’s plays, ArteAmerica programs, and PasoNuevo youth performances. One of the highlights of the season was using Community Forklift finds to showcase the vibrancy, color, and provenance of their February 2024 show, Las Hermanas Palacios (The Palacios Sisters).

Materials sourced from Community Forklift added detail and authenticity to the set. Everything from wall sconces to, trim, doors, hardware, floor tiles, sliding glass doors, paint, and lamps were used to breathe life into the stage. These real pieces made the on-stage scenery tangible for the audience and brought a quality of dynamism to the production. And these pieces aren’t just used once — they can be used year-after-year, reimagined for each season’s productions.

The partnership between GALA and Community Forklift was initially borne out of the company looking to Community Forklift as a resource for affordable secondhand finds for the set. With the encouragement of the Community Forklift staff, GALA applied for a CBB grant and was accepted. Since 2011, over 500 other organizations across the area have received over $500,000 worth of materials.

Through our Community Building Blocks (CBB) program, we provide mini-grants that allow community groups and nonprofits to use warehouse credit towards a wide range of projects that serve the greater community. That could be furniture for an elementary school teacher’s lounge in an underserved neighborhood or necessary appliances for a facility that works with providing resources to the unhoused community.

If your organization is interested in applying for a CBB grant, you can find more information here, and we would love to connect with you about your vision.

Production photos by Daniel Martinez

Every time you donate or shop at Community Forklift, you’re helping us lift up local communities through reuse.  We turn the construction waste stream into a resource stream for communities in the DC region – by keeping perfectly good items out of the landfill, preserving historical materials, providing low-cost building supplies, and creating local green jobs.