Photo Flash: American Stage Offers Unprecedented Access with a Bold New Experiment

As American Stage celebrates its 40th Anniversary season, the Saint Petersburg professional theatre company is announcing a new initiative focused on the long-term future of the organization by developing the next generation of theatre professionals, theatre audiences and advocates. Beginning January 1, 2018, American Stage is making live theatre free to young people under the age of 20.

"As I thought about the American Stage's role as an arts leader, I began to think more seriously about our responsibility to this art form and to the community we serve," said Producing Artistic Director, Stephanie Gularte. "With a quickly evolving cultural landscape, there are some questions that need to be addressed with some urgency: Who will shape the future of the American theatre? Who will perform on, design and direct for our stages? Who will market, advance and lead our theatres? And who will fill the seats, champion our programs and engage with our work?"

These questions led Gularte, along with her leadership team at American Stage, to create an unprecedented initiative committed to developing the future artists, audiences and advocates of professional live theatre in Tampa Bay. The Young Americans initiative is comprised of three major pillars of forward-looking opportunities, including one pillar which is being considered a bold experiment for the year 2018.

Pillar #1: The American Stage apprenticeship program is dedicated to building the skills and careers of future theatre artists and arts leaders. This year-long residency provides young people who have recently completed their undergraduate degrees, to be fully immersed in American Stage's operations and programming, receiving hands on experience and impactful mentoring by industry professionals to prepare them for careers in the theatre.

Pillar #2: The Under 30 Pass offers unlimited theatre to young people under the age of 30 for only $15 per month. Pass holders may attend American Stage mainstage productions, improve, cabaret, American Stage in the Park as often as they like.

Pillar #3: The Under 20 Free Passport is a bold experiment in 2018 that allows young people under the age of 20 to have access to American Stage's full mainstage season at no cost.

"With our Young Americans initiative, teens and young adults will have unprecedented access to our work and will have the opportunity to make theatre a regular part of their lives," said Gularte. "The initiative is exciting, it's bold, and it's absolutely imperative: live theatre must engage today's youth to survive and thrive."

The third pillar, making professional live theatre free to young people under the age of 20 is a particularly ambitious effort aimed at eliminating cost as a barrier to this art form. It is also a potentially risky move for the theatre. With full priced tickets covering only 55-60% of the costs of producing, giving away thousands of dollars of ticket inventory is sure to have a financial impact.

The theatre is counting on the generosity of the community and arts supporters to help fund this initiative and to keep it going throughout 2018 and beyond. Scott Wagman and Beth Houghton, two Saint Petersburg residents actively involved in the philanthropic community recently offered a $25,000 matching gift, specifically to support the Young Americans initiative.

"Beth and I love American Stage and were inspired by the Young Americans initiative to increase accessibility by radically cutting costs for students and young people," said Wagman. "We are happy to support this outstanding initiative and are gratified that American Stage trustees and supporters were able to meet our match of $25,000."

The company is preparing for an aggressive outreach plan with the community to let young people know of this opportunity and to find additional supporters who will help sponsor effort. Said Gularte, "We believe in this effort and are committed to making it work for the community and for American Stage."

high res photos

Photo Flash: American Stage Offers Unprecedented Access with a Bold New Experiment
Guests at American Stage during the Young Americans Initiative announcement on Giving Tuesday.

Photo Flash: American Stage Offers Unprecedented Access with a Bold New Experiment
Guests at American Stage during the Young Americans Initiative announcement on Giving Tuesday.

Photo Flash: American Stage Offers Unprecedented Access with a Bold New Experiment
Guests at American Stage during the Young Americans Initiative announcement on Giving Tuesday.

Photo Flash: American Stage Offers Unprecedented Access with a Bold New Experiment
American Stage Teen Class students at American Stage during the Young Americans Initiative announcement on Giving Tuesday.

Photo Flash: American Stage Offers Unprecedented Access with a Bold New Experiment
Producing Artistic Director, Stephanie Gularte announcing the Young Americans Initiative on Giving Tuesday.

Photo Flash: American Stage Offers Unprecedented Access with a Bold New Experiment
Producing Artistic Director, Stephanie Gularte announcing the Young Americans Initiative on Giving Tuesday.


Related Articles

Tampa THEATER Stories | Shows


From This Author BWW News Desk

Before you go...