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Warren Gerds/Critic at Large: Sturgeon Bay theater changing name to Third Avenue PlayWorks

Critic At Large

Current name Third Avenue Playhouse

New marquee. (Courtesy of the theater)

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – In the midst of many changes in during the COVID-19 pandemic, the professional Third Avenue Playhouse will adopt a new name: Third Avenue PlayWorks.

According to a news release: With renovation continuing for the theater building in downtown Sturgeon Bay, the theater’s board of directors and staff “have been equally busy constructing a solid framework for the growing organization to ensure continued success in the future.”

“TAP is rapidly expanding – both physically and organizationally,” said Amy Frank, managing director. “The board and staff recognized the need to do an internal reassessment to ensure long-term stability. There’s no better time to focus inward and plan for the future than when you’re shut down by a pandemic and involved in a major renovation project.”

With the assistance of a sustainability grant from the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation, the theater was able to hire a consultant to guide the board and staff through a strategic planning process.

Included was re-evaluation of values, mission statement and vision.

“A growing organization needs a refreshed mission and vision statement to accurately reflect its future aspirations,” said Steve Kane, board president Steve Kane. “In TAP’s case, that also included a re-imagining of the organization’s name.”

The name will become Third Avenue PlayWorks later this year – still TAP for short. 

The theater says the name more accurately describes the theater company that has evolved over the past decade. When Robert Boles and James Valcq became the artistic directors in 2012, they transformed Third Avenue Playhouse into a regional professional theater company, producing thought-provoking, engaging shows in an up-close and personal environment.  

“We are a living, breathing group of people who make theater happen,” said James Valcq, co-artistic director. “The term ‘Works’ carries a WPA-ish connotation suggesting we are a theater ‘by’ the people and ‘for’ the people.” 

The theater’s programming consists of popular favorites and lesser-known works, including world premieres and restorations of long-forgotten theatrical endeavors.

“Works” applies in a broader sense to the theater’s audience. “In the new renovated space, TAP will continue to encourage audiences to be active, working participants – engaging their imaginations to make the TAP experience complete,” the release says.

The name change will be official when the building’s multi-million dollar building renovation is completed later this year. However, the process has already begun.

Frank said, “Changing an organization’s name is complicated and multi-faceted. It won’t happen overnight. People will begin to see ‘Third Avenue PlayWorks’ popping up more and more, as we make the transition to the new name.”

The recently reinstalled marquee on the facade of the building already displays the new name. The theater is planning a special ceremony to light the restored marquee for the first time on the evening of July 10 when Sturgeon Bay closes the streets for its “Under the Stars” event. “Everyone is welcome to attend and raise a toast to TAP,” the release says. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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