Comment: What does artistic inspiration look like?
CULPEPER IT TAKES EVERYONE TO KEEP THE STATE THEATRE HUMMING
By Amy Bowling and Danica Low
It is a busy morning of activity and energy, a real life “play” unfolding against the historic and beautiful Art Deco backdrop that is The State Theatre of Culpeper.
Laughter pours out of the Education Studio’s STEP (State Theatre Education Program) class as its children create, prepare and plan to perform their own adapted versions of traditional children’s stories with one of our part-time teaching artists, Andrea Willcockson.
A door away, Stacey March, our part-time box office lead, talks with an excited patron who has come to purchase tickets for himself and his daughter, a first year dancer, for our upcoming performance of “Cinderella” by the Manassas Ballet Theatre.
Just a few months ago, in late December, The State Theatre wasn’t sure it would have the finances to keep its doors open. You may recall a heavy plea through a fundraising campaign that sought donors from across the region for backing of our 2016 year. Half of that goal was met; enough to fund The State Theatre’s expenses for at least six months.
Today, when you visit The State Theatre, you cannot so much as smell the distant aroma of crisis. You hear, see, feel and can almost taste excitement, energy, community and life! And this is how The State Theatre’s staff, volunteers and supporters want it to stay—alive.
In the lobby, our part-time customer relations manager, Felicia Willeman, prepares a concession inventory for the weekend events and confirms volunteer ushers for Saturday’s performance.
Yards away, Toni Hitchcock, our volunteer gallery coordinator, walks the gallery in the lobby, which is covered in the work of local artists assessing the space for the next gallery show.
On stage, the Piedmont Players, our community theatre program, choreograph dance movements for their upcoming performance of “Charlotte’s Web” while volunteers Susie Clancey and Tina Freitas work tirelessly preparing costumes and puppets for the play.
Backstage, Dan Wildermann, our full-time production manager, reviews the contract for the next live band performance to ensure all requirements for lighting and sound are in place.
Upstairs, Denise Mabie, our volunteer membership coordinator, puts together brand-new membership packages to mail out to our newest members. Beside her, Laura Loveday, our grants administrator, types away after gathering the data required to compete for another grant opportunity.
In the office, Tara Moylan, our volunteer administrative assistant/education coordinator, prepares a group email to all surrounding county schools to invite their students to next year’s live field-trip performances.
At her desk, Kelly Ward, part-time operations manager, processes donations and ticket sales for deposit. Danica Low, our new marketing director, completes the second press release of the day announcing upcoming appearances and happenings at the theatre.
Throughout the office, you can hear the excitement of Steven Barker, our full-time executive director, as he brainstorms aloud about future programs for the theatre and works with our development coordinator to discuss partnerships with businesses and organizations throughout the region.
The staff meeting room’s walls are lined by dry-erase boards filled with planned programming through December, future ideas and strategies for reaching the Piedmont region.
Children and teenagers fill the lobby, the halls, the Blackbox and Halsey Auditorium as they prepare for their musical theatre rehearsal. Plus, summer program registration is open, so patrons drop off registration forms for their children and teens to take part in visual art and theatre camps.
Magic happens here.
Every day, these halls and rooms are filled with countless individuals, many who are volunteers, who believe in our STATE vision of “Showcasing the Arts to Everyone.” Every day, these halls and foyers are filled with community members, Culpeper residents and other folks who live in the region and want to be a part of what we have here.
We are dedicated to carry out the mission of those who have come before us—the board members, donors, employees, volunteers and patrons who have supported The State Theatre over the years, and those who have played a part in the history of this amazing building and all that has gone on here. And we thank you.
Today, the State Theatre of Culpeper is not just a destination landmark in Culpeper, it is becoming the heart of the arts in the Piedmont region. Be inspired to be a part of something great. Come join us!
Those who give their time to volunteer as ushers, as creative minds, as administrative support, as marketing and membership hands and strategic thinkers—we need you. Those who remember The State Theatre in their monthly, quarterly or annual charitable giving—you keep the lights on and life happening in this building.
We have opportunities here for everyone—internships, volunteer opportunities, performance, instructor and spectator involvement. If you have a nudge to be involved, we’d like to hear how. And remember that, always, “We’ve got your tickets waiting!” We have a line-up of exciting performances, events and celebrations—a gaming tournament included—this spring, summer and fall.
For a complete list of upcoming events, please visit our website: culpepertheatre.org.
Amy Bowling is development director of The State Theatre of Culpeper. Danica Low is marketing director.