Major gifts help secure the future of Rubicon Theatre Company

Building photo by Patricia Schallert

Nancy Allen and Karyn Jackson had been attending Rubicon productions for more than twenty years.

Rubicon Theatre has received an extraordinary donation and a commitment for a future legacy gift that will help ensure a bright future for the organization. As a result of the generosity of Karyn Jackson of Arcadia (a former Ventura resident), her sister Nancy Allen of Ventura, and Nancy’s husband Leo Allen, Rubicon has been able to purchase a four-unit property on Poli Street which will be used to house visiting artists. Additionally, the company has also received a pledge for a future legacy gift which will mean a new name for the building that houses the company at Main and Laurel in Ventura’s Downtown Cultural District.

Founded in 1998, Rubicon is regarded as Ventura’s premier non-profit professional theatre company and has served more than 480,000 residents and visitors with award-winning productions.

According to Board President Doug Halter (member of the Ventura City Council), “This is the largest single gift in Rubicon’s 23-year-history. It is a remarkable tribute to the world-class artistry that has been a hallmark of Rubicon productions, and a vote of confidence in the future. We could not be more touched by the largesse of these special friends, or more grateful to them for making sure that Rubicon is here for future generations.”

Adds Karyl Lynn Burns, Rubicon Co-Founder and Producing Artistic Director, “I truly feel that this was divine providence. From the moment we met, we all felt that this was ‘meant to be.’ It was difficult at first to know just how, but Karyn and Nancy’s passion for the theatre and for the artists who do the work is so moving. Their joy in life has been making memories for others. It’s the way they have lived their life and a practice modeled for them by their father.”

Burns was initially approached about the Poli property by two members of Rubicon’s Board of Advisors during the run of Shrek, Jr. at Villanova this summer, Rich Stewart and Harriet Clune. The two were volunteering as ushers for Rubicon’s outdoor education performances with fellow members of the Ventura East Rotary Club. Rich had served on the facilities committee for the theatre some years before and recalled that Rubicon spent $100,000 to $150,000 a year on artist housing. Stewart and Clune’s neighbor Karen Heyrend, had told them about a property within walking distance of the theatre that had four-units and five-rooms. The couple put Heyrend and Burns together.

When Heyrend took Burns, Rubicon Co-Founder James O’Neil and Director of Outreach Beverly Ward to see the Poli property, it was love at first sight. “It was beautiful and perfectly kept-up,” says Burns, “just the kind of place we try to rent for artists so that they get a sense of Ventura’s history and feel at home and comfortable.”

“We had just refinanced the mainstage theatre through Brian Donovan, Market Manager at Montecito Bank & Trust,” says Halter. “We knew we could make the Poli payments in terms of cash flow and that it would reduce overall production costs.”

Russ Charvonia, a wealth advisor and charitable planning attorney, donated his time to explore the possibility of a win-win scenario and Heyrend facilitated a meeting with the Allen’s and Karyn Jackson, who had owned the property at one time and had a passion for the community and the theatre.

With help and advice from Brian Donovan at Montecito Bank & Trust, Rubicon was able to secure the loan for Poli. Karyn Jackson decided not only to donate enough for the down payment, but also to make a legacy gift to rename the theatre.

“Karyn is such a humble person,” says Halter. “She often gives anonymously.” She and Nancy and Leo join the Meister and Laby families in being major cornerstone contributors to theatre and the arts in our region.”

In February the theatre building will be renamed Rubicon Theatre Company at The Karyn Jackson Theatre. The name of the company will remain the same. The Poli visiting artist property will be named in Nancy Allen’s honor, with a Plexiglas wall display telling the “Tale of Two Sisters”.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to Rubicon Theatre Company as the company prepared to open, or to learn more about underwriting or sponsorship opportunities, contact Beverly Ward at (805) 667-2912, ext. 280, or [email protected]. For information about upcoming Rubicon events and programming, or to receive e-news from Rubicon, go to, or call Guest Services at (805) 667-2900.

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