And Ashley Melzer, associate artistic director for DSI, said the new space makes for a more active environment.
“Our old space was a performing theatre — you came in and saw a show and maybe you stayed for a couple of shows but it didn’t feel as much like a place you could come any time you wanted to and hang out,” she said.
Though DSI hosted a five-day kickoff event celebrating the Franklin Street opening, Melzer said the whole year will be dedicated to their grand reopening.
“We don’t want this space to be dark,” Ward said. “We don’t want the doors to be locked at any time really. Even when we’re closed on a Sunday or Monday, we have rehearsals and classes and programs for groups outside of the theater.”
And he said the new location has already increased the amount of public interest in the theater.
“It’s in a location where a lot more people are just walking up to find out what’s going on,” he said. “Just the number of conversations I’ve had being here during the day is twice as many as I’ve had in the last year.”
DSI’s move was funded by online donations from a Kickstarter fund.
Ward said it was motivating to see the support they got once they launched their fund. He said within two days of launching, they were able to hit 30 percent of the goal.
“We had to have faith that our fans, former students and community would help us out,” Melzer said. “Here, we find through our shows that many hands make light work, whether it means opening up the theater or performing on stage.”
DSI’s mission of accessibility extends further than providing regular entertainment at a low price. The theater also donates portions of its yearly proceeds to nonprofits in the area.
“If people support DSI, we’re able to give back to the community,” Ward said.
Jonathan Yeomans, a performer and instructor of IMPROV 101 classes at DSI, said the new space provides a more diverse offering of shows and enables a wider range of instruction for a larger number of students.
“We’re not just starting up,” Ward said. “We’ve been doing this for almost a decade. It’s exciting to get that in front of a larger crowd.”
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