Coming soon to Whyte Ave: Grindstone Comedy Theatre

If you’ve had your ear to the ground in Edmonton’s theatre community over the past few years, you know that a recurring conversation topic is space. Performance venues. Rehearsal space. Community gathering space. Affordable space. You name it.

It’s not been a good past few years for space in Edmonton’s arts community, with a number of arts venues closing in the past few years.

But one company – Grindstone Theatre – aims to make a difference to the issue by opening their own venue, the Grindstone Comedy Theatre.

Vicky Berg, Grindstone Theatre’s musical director/admin assistant, gives me an overview of their latest venture:

Tell me a bit about Grindstone Theatre – who are you, what do you do, and how did you decide to undertake this new project, the Grindstone Comedy Theatre?

Grindstone Theatre is a small Edmonton-based theatre company with big hearts and big dreams. We’ve been putting on shows and making people laugh since 2012. Our mandate is to create new opportunities for emerging artists through high-quality productions. Grindstone produces weekly improv shows, sketch comedy, we teach classes, we do corporate gigs, we run free monthly events, we tour shows internationally and we have a season of main stage plays and musicals.

We decided to take on this new project first of all, because we needed space for our weekly shows, but secondly, because we saw the need in our community.

What is your vision for the Grindstone Comedy Theatre? How will it benefit the arts community?

Our purpose for this space is to offer artists and producers an affordable, intimate space for high-quality comedy shows and to give audiences an alternative to their night out on Whyte Avenue. The Edmonton arts scene has gone through some turbulent changes over the last number of years. Some good. Some not so good. Our goal is to remain optimistic and continue to encourage artists and producers to bring their art to the community. A community, that I believe, needs art more than ever. And so we are taking a daring (and mildly daunting) step to open a new venue.

Imagine an ideal week at Grindstone Comedy Theatre – what would you have scheduled?

Grindstone Comedy Theatre will be partnering with other local companies, artists and producers to offer audiences a single point of connection for a wide variety of comedy performances including Stand-Up Comedy, Improv, Sketch, Magic, Burlesque and all variety of comedy acts. We want Grindstone Comedy Theatre to be open to the community all week long. “What should we do tonight? Let’s go see who is performing at the Grindstone Comedy Theatre.” With our new theatre right on Whyte Ave, we are hoping to draw lots of foot traffic of folks looking for a new/alternative source of live entertainment.

What have you done so far to make Grindstone Comedy Theatre a reality and what are your next steps? Your $20,000 IndieGoGo campaign ends December 14 – what happens next?

We have been pushing hard over the last number of months to make Grindstone Comedy Theatre a reality. After securing the space above Block 1912, wheels have been in motion to find major donors and community support. We have been busy writing grants, securing media interviews, writing more grants, getting on the phone, guesting on podcasts and blogs, and contacting everyone we know.  Our online fundraising campaign has reached a lot of people as we have brought awareness on our social media platforms. We want anyone and everyone to know what we are doing. We believe in this project and we want to show the community that we are striving to bring hope to a rocky arts scene. We are making Grindstone Comedy Theatre a reality by being the reality. Grindstone Comedy Theatre already exists, we just need to give it a home.

We are going to continue to push our fundraising campaign until our theatre is built. Yes, the online fundraising campaign ends in 10 days, but that doesn’t mean that our need for support will stop. Maybe we won’t raise the $20,000 we have asked for on indiegogo. But we have already received a massive amount of support from our community that believes in what we are doing. I think the support will continue to  show itself as the word spreads.

How can folks help support Grindstone Comedy Theatre?

How can you help? Tell everyone you know! Watch our sweet fundraising video! Check out our twitter, facebook, and instagram accounts. Visit our website and share what you see! Give us a shout! Maybe there is a different way you can help. Come see our shows! Or….donate today!

Grindstone Comedy Theatre is scheduled to open April 2017. To help Grindstone Theatre in their fundraising efforts, check out their IndieGoGo campaign before December 14.

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