“Connecticut Broadway:” 6 Venues Form New Coalition to Promote Theater in CT


After a year and a half in the dark, the theatrical scene seemed grim. The arts and entertainment world was at a standstill as acts and places deliberated on how to proceed in the event of a pandemic. Last month, Broadway reopened for the first time since dark in March of last year.

In Connecticut, six theater directors took the time to find out how to work together to bring entertainment back to stages across the state.

On September 27, the Connecticut Performing Arts Centers Coalition (CTPACC) was announced; it is about a new organization which seeks to “promote the return of the performing arts in the state of nutmeg”.

The six venues included in the CTPACC are the Bushnell in Hartford, the Garde Arts Center in New London, the Palace Theater in Stamford, the Palace Theater in Waterbury, the Shubert Theater in New Haven and the Warner Theater in Torrington.

According to Michael E. Moran Jr., president and CEO of the Palace Theater in Stamford, the coalition began as a weekly call to discuss the issues of staging shows amid the pandemic, including responsibilities in this area. insurance and how to handle the postponement of shows.

“It was partly to support each other and partly to create a think tank, if you will, on how we were going to deal with the loss of income,” Moran Jr. said. “At one point we had said “hey, wait a minute. Let’s get all of our marketers together and let them do the talking, because the day just might come when a collaborative group of marketers can benefit us. ‘ “

Anthony McDonald, vice president and executive director of The Shubert, said the theaters were far enough from each other not to compete with each other, but they were also close enough to make the collaboration effective.

“Even though the state is small, our customers are quite loyal to each of the theaters, so there are enough people around for us all to be successful,” McDonald said.

Hundreds of people attend a gubernatorial debate at the Garde Arts Center in downtown New London, Connecticut on Wednesday, September 12, 2018.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

After receiving state aid during the 2021 budget season, the venues’ marketing teams met to find “how to cross-promote each other’s shows”.

These discussions culminated in CTPACC’s first initiative, “It’s Showtime, CT! It seeks to promote the recent reopening of theaters via a “TV, print, digital and social advertising campaign” that will also reassure the safety of audiences returning to theaters for the first time since 2020.

“We all want it to be clear that arts and culture are essential. It’s going to be so helpful, I think, in the recovery – both socially and economically, ”said Moran Jr.

Despite the reopening of theaters, theater directors still face issues with the resurgence of COVID and the general apprehension by guests of again filling seats in theaters.

A side view at Waterbury's Palace Theater.
A side view at Waterbury’s Palace Theater.Palais Theater / Contributing photo

“I think one of the problems is that when a show wants to go out on the road, whether it’s a musical or a touring Broadway play, they have to be able to stop. at, you choose the number, 30 cities. . to make the tour work, “said Moran Jr ..” If they can’t perform in a certain location it really jeopardizes the whole tour as they have costs associated with putting together a tour and wasting a week or two here and there could be detrimental. “

“No matter what it is, we can’t predict as easily as we could before COVID what [our] houses will look the same from show to show. Some shows might have 250 people and the next show might have 1,200 people. It’s very unpredictable right now, ”McDonald added.

While Moran Jr. sees some of these issues lingering as COVID plays a role, he reiterated that CTPACC theaters are fully committed to guest safety and have a number of safety precautions in place such as proof. mandatory vaccine or a negative COVID test. result, masking and HVAC enhancements.

And McDonald’s said the theaters themselves face internal issues that add further challenges to the reopening process.

“There are several issues that we are all facing right now. One is the lack of reception staff and volunteers. Many people have left our industry and many are still afraid to work in this type of environment, ”said McDonald. “In turn, we sometimes run out of staff for different events. “

Despite the uncertainty of theater in the immediate future, McDonald’s believes that this art form will always play a vital role in Connecticut arts and culture.

“We six, and the six production houses, are Connecticut’s Broadway. We bring in world-class artists and create world-class productions that add vibrancy and meaning to the state and its citizens,” said McDonald’s. “We are providing something that cannot be reproduced on a TV or movie screen. “


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