By Steve Sears
It was in 2008 a storage space at the Horseshoe Lake Complex.
Enter Roxbury Town Councilman Tim Smith, who petitioned the town to turn the space into a theater venue. Spearheading the project, he and the Roxbury Arts Alliance embarked on a capital fundraising campaign to build the theater. Business and private donors funded the project, and Investors Bank Theater was built and officially unveiled in June 2009.
“The Township continues to support our mission, but we fully fund all of our performances through sponsorships, memberships, donations and ticket sales,” says Genevieve Schmidt, Past President of the Roxbury Arts Alliance. Sarah Coraggio is the current President.
The RAA, piggybacking on 2017 when the RAA celebrated its 20th anniversary and held a successful vocal competition, The Star Next Door, is attempting to “meet” success twice, hosting The Star Next Door-Take 2 for Investors Bank Theaters’ 10th anniversary. The RAA is accepting applications through the end of January and there will be a “live finalist competition” on March 23rd. Judges will award $2,100.00 to the winners.
The Roxbury Arts Alliance (RAA) was formed by Roxbury residents but serves also the surrounding communities. “Our performers,” says Schmidt, “draw an audience from beyond the tri-state area.”
Jerry (and Debbie) Peel, who worked in the music department at Roxbury High School, inspired the 1997 funding of the RAA. “A group of dedicated high school parents joined the Peel’s in forming the group to expand the availability and appreciation of the arts from just high school performances to offering professional performances in town, and the Roxbury Arts Alliance was born. We started by having concerts at local churches and schools, and having cocoa houses, which gave children in and around town a chance to perform for their family and friends. The mission of giving high school scholarships to help support graduating seniors was also started,” says Schmidt.
Schmidt is proud to mention that the RAA reaches out to the community in a variety of ways. “We are able to bring high quality, affordable programming in the arts including poetry readings, many types of music, drama, comedy and programming for the whole family. We have offered classes in ballet, music, drama and drawing for youth through adults. We raised scholarship funds for the first 10 years of the ever-popular Beach Blast, and now continue to hold a free Summer Concert Series at the bandshell at Horseshoe Lake. In fulfilling our mission, we have given 55 scholarships totaling over $25,000 to graduating high school seniors residing in Roxbury, for pursuing the arts in college. The Art Association of Roxbury supplies us with a changing art exhibit in the theater for our patrons and a community jazz band was formed this past year. We have also worked with other non-profits in town to help support their causes.”
The rest of the season promises to be a busy one. It includes a Comedy Night, Stone Soup & other stories, an a-cappella group, a musical performance by the Hexagon Players and some singer-songwriter events. “We will have our 4-week free Summer Concerts on Thursday evenings and a few more concerts to be announced shortly,” says Schmidt.
Membership in the RAA is open to all. Individual memberships are $20.00, family memberships are $35.00. Corporate sponsorships are available at a variety of levels, and new members are invited to volunteer their time and/or talent to help the RAA further its mission.
Adds Schmidt, “Go to www.RoxburyArtsAlliance.org, for our latest schedule, and if you’d like to help us in bringing the Arts to Roxbury, join our Facebook page, attend our events with friends, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message at 862-219-1379 with any questions.”