Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Going Underground with LCP

Saturday night I finally made it to the renovated LCP space, which has been dubbed LCP Underground.

I've been very impressed with the choices that LCP has been making this year and the creativity and passion they've poured into reinventing the organization. It's not an easy route to take and it is one fraught with risks.

Lansing Civic Players is the oldest theatrical organization in the area. They have a rich history and loyal audiences. Those two factors, though, are not enough to keep an organization out of bankruptcy or to keep it thriving in a changing world. They were known for doing standards--shows that demanded little risk-taking, but which gave local actors the chance to perform in cherished, iconic roles. There is great value in that for a community theater.

What they are doing now appears to many like a 180-degree turn. They canceled their mainstage season in favor of intimate, interactive shows that can be performed in the space that they have long owned. While they cannot fit as many people into the space, neither do they have to pay rent or any of the expenses associated with moving a production into a space.

Nor are they simply trying to do the same thing in a different space. They are re-thinking themselves and offering a different fare to a different audience. They're trying things that may or may not work. They're also putting a lot of effort into trying to communicate what they are doing and in making themselves accessible.

Succeed or fail, I applaud Lansing Civic Players for taking actions that have transformed them from the staid, tried-and-true organization to the one taking the most daring risks and creative experiments in our community.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Life & Theater

Driving home from Peppermint Creek's "The Seafarers" last night, I got to thinking about my taste in theater, which admittedly at this point is pretty broad. I was tickled with a metaphor.

My taste in theater is much like what I want out of life:
  • Heavy doses of comedy to fill the days with laughter
  • Plenty of drama to challenge me, make me think, help me grow, and help me form healthier relationships with others
  • Strong dashes of absurdity to keep me on my feet
  • Small bits of the familiar to comfort me
  • A vast majority of new experiences to expand my horizons
  • Relevant stories that give me something to share with those around me
  • Lots of song and dance to celebrate it all

Monday, November 2, 2009

Arts Council Grants

The Arts Council of Greater Lansing announced the awarding of several mini-grants. From their press release:

LANSING, Nov. 2, 2009--The Arts Council of Greater Lansing recently awarded $17,462 as part of its new Collaborative Arts Grant Program to local arts and cultural agencies. Funded by the Council's Arts Advancement Endowment Fund, the grants encourage local organizations to work together on new projects in greater Lansing.

Organizations receiving awards for fiscal year 2010 are:

Community Circle Players - $3,000
Community Circle Players, along with Peppermint Creek Theater Company, will present public performances of the musical "Caroline, or Change" at Riverwalk Theatre in Lansing in September 2010.

Kresge Art Museum - $3,884

Kresge Art Museum will sponsor a new approach for greater Lansing area fourth grade math and language arts students touring their facilities through "The GESSO Project: Art as a Foundation for Academic Excellence" during the 2009-10 school year.

The Steiner Chorale - $3,578

The Steiner Chorale will work with the choral departments of Grand Ledge High School and Leslie High School for a workshop and performance under the direction of Nina Nash-Robertson, professor of music at Central Michigan University. The performance will be at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Lansing in May 2010.

Reach Studio Art Center - $4,000

Reach Studio Art Center, students from Michigan State University's Residential College in the Arts and Humanities, and professional artists will work with urban Lansing youth to create artwork to be exhibited in Lansing's REO Town and at MSU.

Williamston Theatre - $3,000

Williamston Theatre, along with the Performance Network Theatre of Ann Arbor, will present the premiere of "It Came from Mars" by Michigan playwright Joseph Zettelmaier during the theater's spring 2010 season.

LANSING, Nov. 2, 2009--Five Lansing organizations have received a total of $13,000 in City of Lansing mini grants through the Arts Council of Greater Lansing.

The City of Lansing General Funds Mini Grant dollars are administered by the Arts Council for arts and cultural events that take place within city limits, directly benefit City of Lansing residents, and are sponsored by small non-profit arts organizations.

Organizations receiving awards for fiscal year 2010 are:
All-of-Us Express Children's Theatre - $2,550

Collaboration with Reach Studio Art Center and Riverwalk Theatre to present performances of "Dragonsong" involving Lansing children in spring 2010.

Earl Nelson Singers Company - $3,000
Free public concerts to be held in November, January and April at churches in Lansing featuring guest artists to illustrate the history of Negro Spirituals in America.

Happendance, Inc. - $3,000
Performances and workshops for children in Lansing School District elementary schools throughout the 2009-10 school year.

Meridian Community Band - $1,450
Free and discounted admissions for Lansing students and seniors to attend the 16th annual Grand Sousa Concert at Pattengill Middle School.

Reach Studio Art Center - $3,000
Free, after school drop-in art sessions for Lansing youth and families from March to June 2010 at Reach Studio Art Center.

The City of Lansing mini grants are awarded once a year. Non-profit arts organizations whose programs and activities specifically serve Lansing residents are eligible to apply. Applications for the mini grants are available in mid-July and are due in mid-August. All events must take place between Oct. 1 and June 30.