Rochester’s newest theater is anything but typical.
The Avenue Blackbox Theatre is located on Joseph Avenue in the 14621 zip code. It’s the first theater on the city’s Northeast side. It features chalkboard sidewalk panels outside, 60 seats inside and parades on Sundays.
Reenah Golden is the theater’s director. She says she grew up in the area and knows firsthand how much talent is in the neighborhood.
“I want to be a good steward of this space but also make sure that we’re open enough and inviting enough to the community that the community, the neighborhood, the neighbors see themselves as part of this space too,” she said.
The theater is located in a former merchandise store and the area is overall known for high raes of poverty and crime. But Golden says the neighborhood is more than the statisitics reported about it. She considers the area “culture-rich but art-poor” and wants to offer an outlet for the young people in the area. Through programming, youth are able to learn the production skills behind putting on a play.
The theater opens this weekend with a sleight of performances, shows and activities. In the weeks before the opening, Golden did one last fundraising effort to elevate the technical capabilities of the venue. She credits the community for the completion of the project, saying “this isn’t a me project, it’s a we project.”
“When the call went out, I wasn’t the only one to put it out,” she said. “Many people have been putting this call out and when that happened, I was just overwhelmed by how many people came forward.”
Thursday’s ribbon-cutting featured a number of city officials which City Council President Loretta Scott pointed out as a “testament” to the importance of the theater.
“We cut ribbons all the time you know million dollar complexes, high-powered executives. We cut ribbons and we might get two councilmembers and the mayor. We’ve got all except one here today.”
Most of this weekend’s events are free and open to the public. To learn more, visit the theater’s Facebook page.