When I think about my story of founding Powerstories Theatre, I talk about the need to help women celebrate their true stories on stage. As I was riding my bicycle across the United States in 1998, I had 3,000 miles to contemplate how to help others honor their truth. When I returned to Tampa, I began Powerstories, an intimate, professional, nonprofit theatre. Our mission is ‘staging true stories to open minds and hearts.’
Since our first production in 2000, our theatre has been a mainstay for producing hundreds of true story plays, musicals, workshops, and events. Over the years, Powerstories has opened its doors to thousands of audience members, organizations, and new artists to raise awareness of the power of in personal stories. A highlight of the theatre was in October 2010 when we received the National Arts and Humanities Award for our outstanding program working with young girls in Girlstories Leadership Theatre from First Lady Michelle Obama.
On March 8, 2020, a cast of seven performed the closing musical number of Working - A Musical on our brightly lit Powerstories stage. Our small theatre in Tampa, Florida, always showcased true stories, and this musical production featured true stories about working Americans. On this day, the sold-out crowd took to their feet to give the performers a standing ovation, and everyone was happy.
Little did we know that when we turned off the stage lights, hugged goodbye, and locked the doors after that final performance, we had no way to gauge how important that moment would be. It would be the last production performed due to the potentially fatal epidemic of Covid-19. Our 20th-anniversary celebration in 2020, bringing true stories to the community, would be spent with an empty theatre and a darkened stage.
Months and months have passed with us being determined to continue to help others tell their stories. Though our stage lights have been out since March and our anniversary season canceled, we continued our love of theatre by giving young girls a voice through our Girlstories Leadership Theatre program. Though Zoom took a bit to get used to, our girls learned to tell their stories and even presented a showcase online at the end of the summer program.
In response to the pandemic, we quickly founded PositivelyPowerstories.com. In this online episodic virtual time capsule, the community near and afar share stories, music, photos, and art on a public website and connect, which is so very important during this unprecedented type of isolation. We’re proud to touch thousands of lives through this creative outlet. In June our Special Edition of Black Lives Matter received over 24,000 hits on two days.
Despite being hit hard, our story isn’t ending. We’ve survived by spending down cash reserves, but these are dwindling fast. We’ve retained our family of contract theatre staff for now, and we have incredible plans for 2021. We have been working tirelessly to reimagine our theatre for the future. We’ve worked so hard and do not want the pandemic to be the end of our story. We need your help to bring the lights back on.
Here is our plan - Will you help us shine brightly again?
We are planning a grand reopening in March 2021 featuring Powerstories as an innovative hybrid Theatre and Film venue. With your help, we need to raise $25,000 to launch this brand-new festival and lay the foundation for producing more festivals in the future. It will keep us shining brightly again!
The $25,000 raised will be utilized to launch The Voices of Truth Theatre Festival. Funds will be used to purchase new camera equipment, make theatre improvements, implement Covid-19 safety measures, and contract labor fees (technical directors, stage managers, directors), rent, utilities, and marketing.
The Voices of Truth Theatre Festival will be held from March 10 to 28, 2021, at Powerstories Theatre, both social-distanced in person and live-streamed worldwide. It is an artistic platform allowing 30 new artists to use their voice to inspire audiences from any place on the globe. This three-weekend festival showcases artists and their productions, real-life, humorous, heartbreaking, eye-opening, conversation-starting plays, and stories. Our goal with livestreaming is to maximize our reach and increase revenue. We are offering our festival directors several options to produce their works safely.
If you are in a position to help, we would be extremely grateful.
We refuse to give up, as this is not the end of our story. We continue to explore all revenue opportunities. We know what a difficult and uncertain time this is for everyone, and we understand that there are so many in need. If you’re in a position to support our theatre, we’ll be extremely grateful to receive that help. We feel when we get through 2021, we will be on our way to continued success. And if you could let others know about this campaign, we’ll appreciate that immensely, too.
All dollars raised will help us get us back on track to do what we love and what we do best: giving performers a brightly-lit stage to tell true stories to open minds and hearts. Thank you for listening to our story.
(2013 Community Hero Award - Victor Hedman, Fran Powers, and Lightning owner Jeff Vinik)