The Regional Arts Commission recently awarded the first-ever Innovation Grants, totaling $466,000 to nine St. Louis cultural organizations including STAGES ST. LOUIS, Shakespeare Festival of Saint Louis, Craft Alliance, and the Contemporary Art Museum, among others. The grants support groups that think in new ways and take risks to accomplish artistic or administrative goals.
A total of $43,000 was awarded to STAGES to fund the creation of the new American Musical Creative (AMC) division. This new program aims to establish St. Louis as a hub for the creation of new American musical Theater Productions. The first of its kind in the state of Missouri, AMC has the potential of not only creating new Musical Theatre Works that could live on for decades, it also has the enormous potential of putting St. Louis on the national performing arts map as a creative force in new product. The RAC Innovation Grant will help to provide STAGES with the essential funds needed for research and development, addressing the project's initial expenses such as the hiring of an Associate Artistic Director and the scheduling of onsite regional visits to theatres, universities, and national organizations specializing in the development of new American musicals.
At the helm of this new division will be STAGES' newly appointed Associate Artistic Director, Stephen Bourneuf. With decades of experience on Broadway, regional theatre, and television, Bourneuf is distinctly fit for heading up the AMC division. Working alongside Bourneuf will be the award-winning STAGES creative team. Artistic Director, Michael Hamilton has mounted well over 75 acclaimed musical theatre productions at STAGES, and full time Musical Supervisor, Lisa Campbell Albert, is not only an accomplished musical director, but is also an acclaimed arranger, pianist and singer.
Throughout most of 2013, the STAGES team will research and determine how to properly implement the AMC project. This new division could potentially begin bringing artists together in late 2013 to collaborate on creating new works and/or re-envisioning a classic work. As a specific project develops, public readings and workshop performances will be scheduled to gather audience feedback, leading potentially to a full-fledged production at STAGES and/or at other regional theatres. STAGES' new Education and Administrative facility, the Kent Center for Theatre Arts (opening in the Spring), will serve as a home for AMC. The flexible performance hall and rehearsal space will provide an ideal location for readings and workshops.
"The musical is truly an indigenous American art form, though its existence has become threatened due to the radical expenses of producing on Broadway," explains STAGES Executive Producer Jack Lane. "Throughout the last twenty years, a number of forward thinking regional theatres have established nurturing and safe environments in which to create new works. The majority of the great Broadway musicals of the past two decades were in fact created outside of New York. Thanks to the RAC Innovation Grant, STAGES will be able to join this illustrious group of regional theatres as we launch the American Musical Creative. I look forward to the day when St. Louis will be known as the home of great new American musicals. The entire STAGES organization is deeply grateful to the Regional Arts Commission for this very special grant."
STAGES ST. LOUIS is committed to preserving and advancing the art form of Musical Theatre through excellence in performance and education. In 2013, STAGES will present its 27th season of Broadway-quality theatre to more than 45,000 patrons.