The ART was founded in 1980 as a grassroots community theater by Ajamu Mutima in the old Star Garage (then a vacant warehouse space owned by the city), part of a consortium called the Neighborhood Arts Coalition, which included the Laverne Porter dancers. Ajamu agreed to share the nascent theater with another troupe called Theaterworks— at first, alternating productions, then merging— and The Acrosstown Repertory Theatre was born. From the beginning, ART was dedicated to cross-cultural theater, producing classic, avant-garde, and sometimes original material.
In 1985, the city decided to sell the Star Garage as part of a downtown redevelopment project. After many City Council meetings, petitions and protests (including an original political satire called Fact Wino Meets the Phantom of the Star Garage— one of the Acrosstown’s biggest hits), the City of Gainesville generously provided the group with a grant to relocate. In 1986 the ART converted the warehouse space at the Baird Center into a small theater, and we’ve been there ever since.
The ART has now been in existence for 35 years, remarkable for a small community theater. Throughout, it has remained true to its ideals, providing grass-roots, cross-cultural theater, a showcase where volunteers can stage the classics and also do avant-garde and original material. We create theatre for the community, by the community, and hope to for many, many years to come.
Thank you for your support of the Acrosstown. Without you— our donators, volunteers and audiences— we would not survive. With you, there’s nothing we cannot achieve.
Many thanks to Dr Andrew Gordon for providing us with a brief history of the Acrosstown.
While you’re here, would you like to take a look at our past few years’ of shows?