Williamstown Theatre Festival
The American theatre industry has experienced a significant decline in recent years, with theatre companies across the country facing closure and struggling to attract audiences. According to a report by the Theatre Communications Group, theatre attendance in the United States has steadily declined over the past decade, with a 10% decrease in audience size from 2010 to 2019. This decline can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to the theatre industry, forcing many theatres to shut down temporarily or permanently. Additionally, changing entertainment preferences and the rise of digital streaming platforms have contributed to declining theatre audiences. A survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts found that only 8% of adults in the United States attended a play or musical in 2017, compared to 11% in 2012, reflecting a decreasing interest in live theatre experiences.
The Williamstown Theater Festival has not been immune to these challenges. An aging audience, socioeconomic disparity and inaccessibility, lack of community engagement, programmatic issues, and funding challenges have all been factors in its decline.
why it matters
The Berkshires of Western Massachusetts have long been known as a vibrant hub for arts and culture. The region’s economy relies heavily on the presence of arts organizations, tourism, and the service industry, making the solvency of these arts organizations crucial for the local economy.
Reviving The Williamstown Theatre Festival is of paramount importance to the local economy, the arts community, and the stability and overall well-being of the region. By addressing concerns of exclusivity, lack of relatability, and affordability, the festival can become a unifying force, promoting cultural enrichment, economic growth, and social inclusivity. Through collaboration, community engagement, and thoughtful programming, The Williamstown Theatre Festival has the potential to evolve into an institution that embraces its residents and visitors alike, fostering a thriving and inclusive arts ecosystem. By harnessing the vast resources we have right here at our fingertips, Williamstown can become more than a place where theatre is made; it will be known as the place where theatre lives.
“Theatre Lives Here”
By utilizing the stunning local landscapes and architecture, embracing the creative and industrial talents of the Berkshires community, and fostering inclusivity and collaboration with local institutions, the WTF can create a revitalized theater festival that truly reflects and resonates with the people and spirit of the region.
Capitalize on Williamstown's unique and extraordinary locations. Utilize the natural beauty of the Berkshires: Stage performances in outdoor locations and historical sites, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves in the theatrical experience.
Harness untapped local talent; Provide opportunities not only to local playwrights, musicians, and performers, but to artists and tradesmen to create jobs and enrich the festival's programming, ensuring an authentic, diverse, and fresh perspective.
Collaborate and partner with institutions like Williams College, The Clark, Barrington Stage, as well as local businesses, restaurants, and bars to create connected theatrical experiences that strengthen the regional economy.
Embracing its rich history, Williamstown Theatre Festival will expertly curate productions old and new that bridge the past and present, resonating with and thus re-engaging the modern audience on a profound emotional level.
About Margo Neely
Margo Neely is a polymath whose interdisciplinary work has been celebrated for its innovation and bold creative vision. With a background in art, philosophy, and technology, she is best known and as the multi-hyphenate creator of the award winning television series Ladies Revenge Club (“Best of the Fest” and “Best Short” winner at New York Comic Con/New York Super Week), the creator of the “Rosie Unriveted: We Can’t Do It Anymore!” campaign, and the visionary behind the Neely Air mi adidas custom concept — the megaviral drum machine shoe seen and loved by over 6 billion people worldwide.
Margo’s creative-technological innovations have earned her a reputation as a pioneer in the world of digital art, and she is frequently invited by media outlets around the globe to share her insights and expertise. Her work continues to push the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of art and technology, and she remains committed to using her talents to explore new frontiers while inspiring others to do the same.
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