ASHLAND — An $80,000, three-year grant will allow Oregon Stage Works to add a second full-time position to its staff. The grant from Meyer Memorial Trust will allow the hiring of an arts manager to work on theater growth and fundraising, said Peter Alzado, the company's producing artistic director and the only current full-time employee.

ASHLAND — An $80,000, three-year grant will allow Oregon Stage Works to add a second full-time position to its staff. The grant from Meyer Memorial Trust will allow the hiring of an arts manager to work on theater growth and fundraising, said Peter Alzado, the company's producing artistic director and the only current full-time employee.

"When we have someone who is directly charged with fundraising, development with grants, audience development and strategic planning along with the board and artistic director, it's going to help the theater grow," Alzado said.

The new position will allow Alzado to concentrate more on roles traditionally filled by an artistic director. Those include performances, educational programs and direction for the theater. The arts manager will work more on business matters, Alzado said.

"We need a lot of fundraising," said board member James Auchincloss. "We need some day-to-day funding for operations. In these economic times ... it certainly doesn't hurt."

Oregon Stage Works has three focus areas: a six-play subscription series; Ashland Children's Theater, which provides instruction and productions; and the Playwright's Unit, which supports new works by local authors.

"(The grant) is in recognition of the kind of work we have been doing with very limited resources," Alzado said.

Volunteer staff, board members and community actors have been the biggest resources for the theater, Alzado said.

"One of the most difficult things ... is to keep the quality of the work at a certain level without being able to pay people," Alzado said. "We do sometimes hire equity actors, but they are few and far between."

Ticket sales barely cover operating costs for a production, Alzado said.

One focus of the new position will be fundraising for an endowment that can pay theater workers.

A salary range of $35,000 to $40,000 for the position is listed on the theater's Web site.