Constellation Stage and Screen, a new arts organization combining the Bloomington Playwrights Project, Cardinal Stage and Pigasus Institute, announced their new name and theatrical season at a merger celebration on Saturday at the Woolery Mill.
The new arts organization will blend theater, film production, new work development and arts education, with the mission to uplift Bloomingon’s artistic culture and economy. Official operations will commence on July 1.
Producing Artistic Director Chad Rabinovitz said the merger’s innovative combination of resources will strengthen the local arts community.
“We're creating something that's bigger than the sum of its parts,” Rabinovitz said. “That's going to allow us to do so much more.”
Rabinovitz said Constellation’s goal is to serve artists and patrons throughout Bloomington.
“Our job as a nonprofit arts organization is to make the place we live better,” Rabinovitz said. “That's the heart of what we're doing here. Whether it's making you feel something emotionally, whether it's making you proud of the community that you live in.”
Constellation announced plans for their first theatrical season, which will feature eight total shows, including new plays, a holiday musical, literary classics and a childrens’ program.
The shows include “The Grown-Ups” (Sept. 14 to Oct. 1), “The Importance of Being Earnest” (Oct. 13-30), “Elf the Musical” (Dec. 15-31), “Deathtrap” (Jan. 26 to Feb. 12), “American Fast” (March 23 to April 8), “The Moon and the Sea” (June 8-25), “Anne of Green Gables” (Nov. 10-27), and “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus The Musical” (April 28 to May 14).
“The Grown-Ups,” an outdoor theater experience premiering in the fall, is a newly written production that Constellation plans to eventually produce into a feature film.
Artistic Director Kate Galvin said Constellation’s production model is extremely unique for an arts organization of this scale. Constellation will turn newly written plays into films at the local level, and then distribute them nationwide. In the past, Galvin said stage-to-screen production had been reserved for major Hollywood studios.
“That crossover between stage and film doesn't really happen on the regional level,” Galvin said. “We're trying to figure out how we can crack that nut and find a way to make it work on a smaller scale, so that other organizations can look to us as a model and potentially do the same thing.”
Constellation also announced their new arts philanthropy initiative — The Big Bang Campaign — which hopes to secure $250,000 in annual donations. The Cook Group, which has pledged to give $300,000 per year in operating support to Constellation, promised to match annual donations up to $150,000 per year as well.
Constellation Marketing Director Cassie Hakken said the organization’s logo is a nod to state pride and clear midwestern skies where stars are more visible. While some may think major artistic production is reserved for the coasts, Hakken said she disagrees.
“We are based in the Midwest, and there are still cool things here and cool art made here,” Hakken said. “The Midwest is not a monolith, so it's exciting to kind of show some pride in that.”
Hakken said she hopes Constellation’s educational resources provide interested young people with access to the arts. Their arts education programming will offer cross-disciplinary classes, workshops and hands-on training experiences for all ages. Summer camps will run from June 6 to July 22 for children ages 5 to 17, and registration is open now.
In addition to education, Constellation’s resources will create new opportunities for individual artists and smaller arts organizations in Bloomington, Hakken said.
“We want to bring other people up with us to grow, and to make this a great place for art,” Hakken said.