New Business Conditions Require New Networks Like This Theatre Alliance

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October 16, 2013; Patriot-News


All over the country, performing arts groups are struggling with issues of audience, art and revenue, but in central Pennsylvania, a number of groups have decided they are better together than apart.

The new Harrisburg Area Theatre Alliance is essentially a gathering of theater directors, producers, and actors in an organization that will work together to promote the area’s mix of community, professional and campus theaters.

“It started as, wouldn’t it be great if theaters talked to each other more?” remarked David Olmsted, HATA’s first board chairman. “There was a little flicker of light that maybe we should do something about that. We were kind of scared at first, thinking local theaters might say that was the dumbest idea they’d ever heard. But we were pleasantly surprised at their overwhelming endorsement.”

HATA will offer a venue for mutual support through such mundane stuff as scenery and costume sharing, regular roundtable discussions, and such higher-order stuff such as lobbying and educational opportunities. The group’s website also posts a combined calendar of upcoming theater events.

“We should all be helping each other to stay open,” said Brenda Eppley, a theater professor who helped found the group. “It benefits all of us. No one is going to lose their autonomy by joining this alliance.”—Ruth McCambridge

  • Ellen Pollan

    Alliance of this nature are springing up. Here in The Bronx we have The Bronx Arts Alliance (BxAA) is a newly formed collective of arts and cultural institutions and organizations. Our mission is to build, support and promote the works of artists and arts organizations throughout the Bronx. BxAA is also focused on actively engaging neighboring communities through the arts. This model requires leaders that understand their local arts ecosysystyem, can integrate ideas and take action. This is forward thinking.
    The Bronx Arts Alliance founding members include: Bronx Council on the Arts, BronxArtSpace, Bronx Children’s Museum, Bronx Documentary Center, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx Music Heritage Center, Bronx River Arts Center, Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education , Derfner Judaica Museum and The Art Collection at The Hebrew Home in Riverdale, Dreamyard Project , El Fogon Center for the Arts, lisa Contemporary, Lehman College Art Gallery, Longwood Arts Gallery @ Hostos, No Longer Empty, The Andrew Freedman Home of Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, The Art Galleries at Krasdale Food , THE POINT, The Glyndor Gallery at Wave Hill, PEPATIÁN, Pregones Theater.

    Future initiatives will explore additional ways to use the arts to positively impact the quality of life and our communities. This may include collaboration with individual artists, institutions, arts organizations and potentially local business partners.

  • Santo D. Marabella

    Glad to read this article. I chair the board of a similar organization in Reading, PA called the Greater Reading Alliance of Community Theatres. It has been a challenging journey – we’re less than 2 years old, but our three Theatre Members are beginning to see the benefit of a more formalized collaboration. Would enjoy more in-depth articles about the benefits and challenges of theatre alliances, and of course, happy to share our research and experience with others. I’m very familiar with NPQ, as my full-time position is a management professor at Moravian College, where much of my earlier research has been around leadership and governance issues for not-for-profit organizations.