Fredericksburg Theatre Ensemble (FTE) has received a $30,000 JumpStart! Grant from the Fredericksburg Economic Development Authority (EDA) to renovate the 80-seat performance space on the second floor of Picker’s Supply in downtown Fredericksburg into a performing arts venue called Picker’s Alley.
“We have community theatre companies in the area and a boatload of musicians, and we need a space to perform,” said FTE Executive Director Kimberly Leone.
“FTE is working with Picker’s Supply to take care of the things that are too big for our volunteers,” Leone said. “We’re going to use the money to improve the bathrooms and ADA access, in order to make a space that’s welcoming to the entire community.”
The partnership between Leone and Picker’s Supply owner Brian Dillard came about through a mutual friend.
“Venue fees are problematic, especially for smaller companies and groups,” Leone said. “Picker’s Alley will operate as a door split, which means the money a performer brings in is split between that performer and the venue owner. It also means both venue owner and performer have a vested interest in promoting the event,” she said.
FTE will perform its four yearly shows in Picker’s Alley. Leone will be responsible for the booking of other performers, including musicians. “The first weekend of the month will be dedicated to live theatre,” she said.
“For musicians, Picker’s Alley will provide a venue where listening to the music is the focus,” Leone said.
FTE is a nonprofit, which under Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Commission (ABC) code means the group may sell alcohol during performances, without having to be a restaurant. “We’re going to use profits from these sales to offset operational costs,” Leone said.
Leone said Fredericksburg Theatre Ensemble began in 2011 when five people threw $1,000 into a pot. The group is volunteer driven.
Shows performed this summer will be hosted by Picker’s Supply, while the permits for Picker’s Alley are obtained.
FTE’s next performance is “An Adult Evening of Shel Silverstein” on July 29 and 30, and August 5 and 6. Tickets are $10. Snacks, sodas, beer, and wine will be available for sale. “If this were a movie, it would be rated R due to adult language and humor,” FTE said.
The entrance to Picker’s Alley is located in the alley behind Picker’s Supply, which is located at 902 Caroline St. in Fredericksburg.
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