What's showing? Austin stage groups team up for ATX Theatre's online show listings guide
Planning a night out to catch some Austin theater just became easier.
The pandemic allowed the city's theater troupes the breathing time and collaborative space to do something that they that have not done before: put together an online hub that features show and event listings — as well as other resources for schoolteachers, parents and theater industry workers
More than that, the new
website, ATXtheatre.org, is designed to reinforce the existing efforts of all those troupes, as well as its partners, including Austin Creative Alliance.
The new umbrella nonprofit, ATX Theatre, is something of a miracle. Much of the behind-the-scenes credit goes to actor and organizer Sharron Bower Anderson, who before the pandemic began asking: Why don't these Austin creative powers combine forces? What are they waiting for?
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The long answer for those who have observed the arts scene closely since the 1980s — the city of Austin's cultural contracts process set up artists to compete for resources against one another. The sometimes countervailing efforts of the former Austin Circle of Theaters, another umbrella group, created few permanent paths toward common ground.
One of Austin Circle of Theaters' successors, Austin Creative Alliance, has smartly kept up those team efforts as an advocate for the arts, and it is partnering with ATX Theatre, especially on the listings. ATX Theatre focuses exclusively on programming from theater troupes, including those already represented on nowplayingaustin.com.
“Since (the alliance) serves all artists throughout the arts and culture sector, this kind of industry-specific partnership makes good sense for a subset of the people we serve," says Jenny Lavery, programming director for Austin Creative Alliance. "It helps bring theatrical projects that much closer to the specific audiences hungry for them. And as the artistic director of Theatre en Bloc, I'm all for that!”
One thing that helped the companies during the pandemic: Zoom. Geographically scattered and busy producers and managers could talk face to face regularly, even if remotely.
“Through outreach, monthly producer meetings, industry happy hours and normalizing the sharing of everything from ideas and information to props and costume pieces, ATX Theatre aims to help the Austin theatre community feel a little more personable and welcoming to all,” Anderson of ATX Theatre says. “This group is working from within to open up Austin's theatrical systems to be more equitable, transparent and accessible.”
Michael Barnes writes about the people, places, culture and history of Austin and Texas. He can be reached at email@example.com.