Rouss Center for the Arts wins $2,000 grant

NEW MARKET– The Rouss Center for the Arts prides itself on emphasizing the community part of community theater. Since September 2016, the theater has put on shows to entertain the public and bring notoriety to the area. Now, the Rouss Center is seeing hard work pay off. At Monday’s town council meeting, Mayor Douglas Bradley presented the center with a check for $2,000, a reward for being a recipient of the  Local Government Challenge Grant.

“We look forward to seeing your vision come to life so you can continue to provide the community with quality entertainment and providing a venue for those in learning or honing their skills in artistic endeavors,” Bradley said as he presented the grant Monday.

The Local Government Challenge Grant is partially supported by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the Town of New Market.

Carmen Conard, Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Rouss Center, explained that to apply for the grant, they had to list what their plan for the money was. In the end, they were awarded the grant for use to help improve the following areas: their sound system, advertising and their dinner theater.

While they don’t have a definite sound system in mind, Conard explained that the board is  planning on moving forward to improve the center’s current system.

“Now that we’re sure we have the funds, we’re going to, as a board, be consulting with an expert to see what we can realistically do,” Conard said. “We want a little more activity and availability with our sound.”

As for the advertising, Conard said the center plans to boost their advertising, starting with improving the signage in front of the building.

“We are going to have to plot out but we are just going to increase our advertising,” Conard said. “One thing that is very popular, people look for the sign out in front of the theater to tell what show is coming up. While we’ve had one that was an  old one, we’re probably going to update that as soon as possible.”

The final part of the grant will go toward funding scripts for their dinner theaters, Conard explained.

“A lot of people told us that they were really glad we were going to have it (dinner theater),” Conard said. “We are going to choose plays that lend themselves to a little time to visit, a nice dinner at a table with other folks and then you get the entertainment as well.”

Along with the dinner theater, Conard said that the center is also planning on partnering with other non-profit groups in Shenandoah County. She said the hope is to have the non-profit group work as servers for the dinner theater as well as help with backstage non-theater items. In return, the center will help the non-profit solicit tips from the diners and that “they will be able to raise funds through that cooperation.”

Amber Dennison, marketing and events coordinator, stated in an email that the town loves having the Rouss Center and that the town is very excited to see them receive the grant.

“The Rouss Center wants to provide more than just a show, they want to deliver a memorable experience that will keep patrons coming back for more. The funding awarded will assist them in improving sound systems, and other items they may need to be successful in achieving their goals. Not only are they bringing theater arts to the community, they are giving life to a historical building. We are excited to see how they grow and help them be able to do that.”