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Eight professional theaters announce Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance

Posted: Feb. 16, 2010

SOUTHEAST MICHIGAN They're vastly different, but they have more in common than most people know. They are Michigan's Equity theater producers: all professional, all producing under a contract with the Actors' Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. Now Detroit Repertory Theatre (Detroit), The Jewish Ensemble Theatre (West Bloomfield), Performance Network Theatre (Ann Arbor), Plowshares Theatre Company (Detroit), The Purple Rose Theatre Company (Chelsea), Meadow Brook Theatre (Rochester) Tipping Point Theatre (Northville) and Williamston Theatre (Williamston) are proud to announce the formation of the Michigan Equity Theatre Alliance.

META will be a permanent alliance that will foster collaboration at all levels of operations, from marketing and audience development to collective bargaining to sharing inventory. META will strengthen and promote the image of Michigan's Equity theaters, while finding ways to grow stronger through collaboration. META will pursue projects in each of four strategic areas identified as critical for success. These are: marketing, branding and audience development; group vendor and contract negotiation; research, best practices and advocacy; space and facilities sharing/organizational efficiency.

META was formed through a partnership between the Cultural Alliance for Southeast Michigan and the Michigan Non-Profit Association, funded by the Kresge Foundation and the Ford Foundation, when steering committee members representing seven theaters came together for a series of monthly meetings beginning in April 2009. Through these meetings, the need for several collaborative projects was identified, resulting in the group's determination to create a permanent alliance. META will undertake projects on an ongoing basis, and will announce its first major event soon.

META steering committee member and Performance Network Theatre executive director Carla Milarch said, "We're thrilled that after working side by side for so many years, Michigan's Equity theatres can finally unify under the META name. We share so many common interests and concerns that it just makes sense for us to band together. Even though we're competitors, we recognize that in this economic climate, we must work together to survive. This alliance will make us all stronger, individually and as an industry."

Members of the META steering committee include Gary Anderson, Christopher Bremer, Barbara Busby, Donald V. Calamia, James Kuhl, David Magidson, Cheryl Marshall, Carla Milarch, Alan Ribant, Travis Walter and David Wolber. The group is currently working with Lynne Friman, a strategic alliances manager assigned by CASM, to further strategize on which of several projects it will embark on in the coming months.

META is currently in the formative stages, but interested parties can gain more information by emailing Carla Milarch at

META member theaters:

Performance Network Theatre: Michigan is home to hundreds of Broadway quality actors that choose to live and work right here. Performance Network, Ann Arbor's professional theater, pairs its talent with the hottest plays available, produced with imaginative sets and costumes, in its intimate downtown space. PNT's mission is to "provide uncompromising artistic leadership in the region and produce works that engage, challenge and inspire audiences and artists." With a wide variety of musicals, comedies, dramas, Pulitzer Prize and Tony award-winners, Performance Network is proud to be Michigan's premier professional Theatre.

Tipping Point Theatre: Located in Northville, on the western fringe of metro Detroit, the mission of Tipping Point Theatre is to foster human interactions and relations, creating a unifying, yet personal experience through affordable, professional theater performances and community outreach. TPT is committed to touching your hearts, making you laugh, making you cry and making you think.

Detroit Repertory Theatre is a diversity-centered, neighborhood-based professional theater located in the geographic center of Detroit. From its inception in 1957, the Theatre's mission has been to produce the best possible professional theater; demonstrate the power of diversity acting in unity; utilize indigenous professional artists; provide training for a professional life in theater; and attract wide, diverse audiences that reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of Southeast Michigan.

The Purple Rose Theatre Company: Founded in 1991 by acclaimed actor and Chelsea-native Jeff Daniels, The Purple Rose Theatre Company is a leading American theater dedicated to producing the new American play and creating opportunities for Midwest theater professionals. The PRTC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit theater operating under a Small Professional Theatre agreement with the Actors' Equity Association. The PRTC promotes the development of new American theater and its practitioners, provides valuable educational opportunities for young artists, and through consistently high quality production values, has earned the respect of both local and national theater communities.

The Jewish Ensemble Theatre: JET's mission is to produce theater on the highest possible professional level, to provide a stage for the exploration of new ideas, and confront issues of community and humanity from a Jewish perspective. The Jewish Ensemble Theatre serves as a force for Jewish continuity, a platform for new voices, and a bridge of understanding to the general community.

Plowshares Theatre Company is recognized as Michigan's only professional African American theater company. For 20 years, Plowshares has been the alternative voice in metro Detroit's performing arts community - a theater that offers a true off-Broadway experience, with the kind of entertaining and diverse productions that have made it a favorite among discerning patrons. Plowshares is an urban theater with a distinctly Detroit style. The name of the theater company is synonymous with its mission: Plowshares is dedicated to "breaking new ground" by nurturing emerging talent, providing challenging opportunities to local artists and presenting new plays.

Meadow Brook Theatre is dedicated to creating opportunities for artists and patrons of the arts to participate in live theatrical productions of the highest quality through a variety of professionally produced events. MBT is Michigan's largest producing professional theater and the only LORT theater in the state. Seasons are consistently filled with Michigan premieres and shows straight from Broadway that inspire, educate and entertain.

Williamston Theatre's mission is to produce professional theater that excites and engages its audiences while challenging us all to explore our lives. This mission statement is supported by the following objectives: to be an integral part of the cultural fabric of Michigan; to pursue innovative collaboration in every aspect of its work; to establish a home for Midwest artists; and to engage audiences of diverse ages, cultures and economic backgrounds.

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