Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rocky First Year Splits Adele Grage Theater Use between ABET and First Act

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Rocky First Year Splits Adele Grage Theater Use between ABET and First Act

Article excerpt

Byline:

Capping a year of logistics and scheduling problems at the Adele Grage Cultural Center, Atlantic Beach city commission approved new terms presented by city manager Joe Gerrity on the use of the center's theater between Atlantic Beach Experimental Theatre and The First Act Children's Community Theatre Inc.

The new terms, which will apply to both organizations' yearly contracts for 2018, splits priority use of the theater space between the fall and winter. ABET will have priority use from Sept. 1 to May 31 and First Act will have priority use from June 1 to Aug. 31, with both groups not to reserve more than 21 days in a month during their time in the theater. Both groups will also have access to the Gail Baker Community Center at the discounted rate. Other terms include reinstating the daily $25 usage fee for every day that either group uses the theater and that set construction cannot begin more than 14 days before a performance.

During the Monday, Jan. 8, city commission meeting, Gerrity explained that ABET was given priority use of the theater in the past with a yearly rate of $200. A second annual contract was given to First Act Children's Community Theater in October 2016 after parents brought their complaints about ABET no longer housing the program to the city commission. It was the first time the city gave priority use of the space to more than one group.

However, scheduling conflicts and use of stage space became problems for both ABET and First Act throughout the year. Aine HealyRichardson, founder of First Act, said that the elaborate sets that ABET builds for its productions leave no room on stage for her program, and that sets were often left on the stage for six weeks at a time. Even with set pieces moved back, it created a safety hazard for the children and forced her to use the smaller community room for rehearsals.

"It's hard to have the same continuity in a children's program if it doesn't run all year round," said HealyRichardson, whose program runs both during the school year and the summer, of the city's terms. …

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