• Kevin Broccoli

Independent Arts Groups Form Rhode Island Theatre Coalition

Rhode Island’s independent theatre community has joined together to form The Rhode Island Theatre Coalition (RITC) with the goal of raising awareness for the vibrant mid-sized theaters in the state and advocating to create a space for smaller performing arts venues in reopening plans as Rhode Island moves forward in creating guidelines for other kinds of organizations and businesses to begin resuming their programming safely and in collaboration with public health experts.

                The organizations that currently make up the coalition are the Academy Players in Providence, Burbage Theatre Company in Pawtucket, The Contemporary Theatre Company in Wakefield, Epic Theatre Company in Cranston, Head Trick Theatre in Providence, Mixed Magic Theatre in Pawtucket, The Players at the Barker Playhouse, and WomensWork Theatre Collaborative in Cranston.  RITC is an inclusive group that hopes to recruit other arts organizations into the coalition as well.

                “Rhode Island’s theater community is one of the jewels of the state,” says Kevin Broccoli, Epic Theatre Company Artistic Director, “But what we’re seeing across the county is that smaller arts organizations are being left out of the conversation about what reopening would look like for them, even as other kinds of small organizations and businesses are being given guidelines to do so.  It’s important to remember that the arts are a large contributor to a healthy economy, and with that in mind, we felt forming this group was a way to help officials communicate with us about what the coming weeks and months will look like for the arts in Rhode Island.

                “Independent theaters are a small but mighty cultural resource for Rhode Island,” says WomensWork co-founder Lynne Collinson, “Uniting under the RITC banner will amplify our voices, allow us to share our best practices, and let us contribute to the conversation about how to safely and successfully reopen our spaces.”

While we have a tremendous amount of respect for the state officials in Rhode Island who have done an admirable job of keeping people in the state safe, we want to make sure that we’re not forgotten about as we move through the phases of reopening,” says Broccoli, “Particularly because many of the theaters in this group should be able to open sooner than larger spaces due to the special circumstances under which we operate.  That means that while so many are stressing the importance of getting the private sector up and running again safely, we also need to be looking at the first part of the creative sector that can begin to come back, and that means theaters like the ones in this coalition.”

                The combined insight and experience of the participating theaters and their staff sends a clear message to Rhode Islanders that when theater comes back, it will be back better and stronger—with an eye on keeping the artists who make it and the audiences who enjoy it safe. Independent theaters are often faced with challenges that require innovative thinking and flexible attitudes, which make them uniquely suited to begin planning for the future, including access to outdoor spaces and financial infrastructures that allow for smaller audiences, adaptable seating, and adjustable scheduling.

                The Rhode Island Theatre Coalition will be used to ensure that independent theaters have a voice in the conversation about how to carefully revive the arts community that’s such a valued part of the history and vitality of the state.

                For more information, please contact us by emailing RhodeIslandTheatreCoalition@gmail.com.

Design by Kerry Giorgi

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