Inside INdiana Business

Newly-formed arts group brings new model to Bloomington

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — An organization in Bloomington formed through a merger of three performing arts groups has unveiled its new brand and plans for an inaugural season. Constellation Stage & Screen will officially begin operations in July and is launching a five-year fundraising campaign to increase annual revenue to support its theater and film productions, as well as arts education initiatives. The organization looks to bring a unique concept to Indiana’s arts community with its “Page to Stage to Screen” pipeline model.

Co-Artistic Directors Chad Rabinovitz and Kate Galvin explained the model and the benefits it could bring in an interview with Inside INdiana Business.

“There is no other theater our size that offers what we’re doing with film production as an integrated element into a regional-level theater,” said Rabinovitz. “So, we actually have an entire film department. We’ll have film screening series. We’ll be developing a feature film every other year based on a new work that we’ve developed from page to stage to screen.”

The first show as part of the model will be a production of The Grown-Ups, a new play written by Skylar Fox and Simon Henriques. It will be performed at The Hundredth Hill Artist Retreat and Residency from September 14-October 1.

Constellation then plans to develop the show into a full-length feature film to be released globally.

Galvin says the new model will have more economic benefits for the organization.

“From a business standpoint, doing theater is what we’ve always done; there is definitely a limit to what our potential revenue is on every production we produce because it’s only going to run for a certain amount of time,” she said. “With the film, that is going to live on for years and years and years to come, so…there’s a potential revenue stream for our organization on a much longer timeline, which is really exciting.”

Last month, The Bloomington Playwrights Project, Cardinal Stage and Pigasus Institute announced the merger, which also includes taking over management of the John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington, which reopened in January and continues to undergo renovations.

Galvin says while the merger was not contingent upon assuming management of the Waldron, it was an important move.

“With Ivy Tech returning ownership of the building to the city of Bloomington, we really saw sort of a void and were very concerned that there was no one who was going to step in to save that building and maintain it as a performing arts and visual arts center,” she said. “That’s the place where we perform a lot of our shows. So, we felt a lot of responsibility to our business and also to the community, to the rest of the arts organizations in town to kind of step in and step up to the place and take the lead on the Waldron and make sure it continues to be an asset for the whole community.”

The Waldron will host performances of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in October as part of Constellation’s inaugural season. The organization has additional plays and musicals scheduled through June 2023.

You can view the full season schedule by clicking here.

Rabinovitz says looking forward, Constellation is focused on completing the renovations to the Waldron, but also getting its theater and film arts education programming up and running, beginning with summer camps that will start in June.

“We’re also building a whole new staffing structure,” he said. “It’s not just sort of fitting pieces together; it’s creating an entirely new organization and in some ways, inventing a new business model to figure out how to maintain the scale of what we’re doing in the size of our community.”

Constellation has launched the Big Bang Campaign to support the new organization’s plans. Bloomington-based Cook Group has pledged a $300,000 per year principal commitment for unrestricted operating support and says it will match all new and renewable annual gifts up to an additional $150,000 per year.

Constellation says its ultimate goal is to secure $250,000 in new, sustainable annual giving by 2027. You can learn more about the campaign by clicking here.