9/28/2012 — 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Speaking from the stage at Trinity Rep, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) today joined with National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee, Major General Kevin McBride of the Rhode Island National Guard, and members of the creative arts community to help launch the “Blue Star Theatres” program, a new national partnership among Blue Star Families, Theatre Communications Group (TCG), and select theaters across the country.

The Blue Star Theatres program will help theaters show their appreciation to military families in a variety of ways: from free or discounted ticket programs; to community discussions on plays whose themes resonate with military families; to workshops and playwriting classes designed to empower creative expression for veterans; to job postings and casting notices on military bases; and much more. 

With support from TCG, a national organization for theatre, and the MetLife Foundation, this initiative recognizes the profound contributions of military families to our nation and seeks to build stronger connections between theatres, military families, and their communities.  TCG and Blue Star Families will help connect theatres with local bases and develop and disseminate best-practices for engaging with deployed personnel, veterans, and service families.

“I salute the NEA, Blue Star Families, TCG and participating theatres around the country for putting military families center stage and spearheading this new program.  Building off the success of the Blue Star Museums program, this initiative will help provide valuable educational and cultural opportunities for our service members and their families.  The Blue Star Theatres program is a natural extension of the Obama Administration’s Joining Forces program, which focuses on helping military families with initiatives like hiring more military spouses and enhancing academic opportunities for students in military families.  These types of programs remind our troops and their families how much we value and appreciate their service to our nation,” said Reed, a former Army Ranger and Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, which oversees federal funding for the arts.

“Three years ago, the National Endowments for the Arts partnered with Blue Star Families to launch Blue Star Museums,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman.  “We are thrilled that TCG and the theater community have also been inspired to work with Blue Star Families in order to answer the First Lady and Dr. Biden's call to help give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.”

“I am proud that Rhode Island’s own Trinity Rep is one of only 22 theatres across the country participating in the new Blue Star Theatres Program,” said Governor Chafee. “Our active-duty military members and veterans – as well as their families and loved ones – sacrifice so much for us; it is appropriate that we give back to them. This program is another great way to express our appreciation for and support of military families.”

“Theatre has the power to deepen communal connection and inspire creative expression,” said Teresa Eyring, executive director, TCG. “It can provide an invaluable means of integrating military families into our communities, while helping us process the consequences of these long years of war.”

“MetLife Foundation is proud to expand our partnership with Blue Star Families and support the launch of the Blue Star Theatre program,” said Dennis White, president and CEO, MetLife Foundation.  “Opening doors to theatres across the country is a wonderful way for members of our military and their families to share time together and experience the arts in their communities.  The Blue Star Theatre program is also a way for MetLife Foundation to say ‘thank you’ to our servicemen and women.”

Currently, there are more than 1 million active duty members of the U.S. military, and an estimated 900,000 children whose parents have served in multiple deployments. 

The Blue Star Theaters program will build upon the successful, three year old Blue Star Museums program, which has grown over the years to over 1,880 participating museums offering free or reduced summer admissions for military families and veterans in all 50 states.                                                                                                                   

Twenty-two TCG Member Theatres have already signed on to participate in Blue Star Theatres, including: Actors Theatre of Louisville (KY), American Conservatory Theater (CA), American Repertory Theater (MA), Artists Repertory Theatre (OR), Burning Coal Theatre Company (NC), California Shakespeare Theater (CA), Childsplay (AZ), Dallas Theater Center (TX), Florida Studio Theatre (FL), Folger Theatre (DC), Gamm Theatre (RI), Geffen Playhouse (CA), Hartford Stage (CT), HERE Arts Center (NY), La Jolla Playhouse (CA), McCarter Theatre Center (NJ), Portland Center Stage (OR), Seattle Repertory Theatre (WA), Signature Theatre (VA), Trinity Repertory Company (RI), William Inge Center for the Arts (KS), and The Wilma Theater (PA).

Blue Star Families is a national, non-profit network of military families from all ranks and services, including Guard and Reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families.  In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable through programs and partnerships like Operation Honor Cards, MilKidz Club, and Blue Star Museums.  Membership includes military spouses, children, and parents as well as service members, veterans and the civilians who strongly support them. To learn more about Blue Star Families, visit: www.bluestarfam.org.

For over 50 years, TCG, the national organization for the American theatre, has existed to strengthen, nurture, and promote the professional not-for-profit American theatre.  TCG’s constituency has grown from a handful of groundbreaking theatres to nearly 700 member theatres and affiliate organizations and more than 12,000 individuals nationwide.  In all of its endeavors, TCG seeks to increase the organizational efficiency of its member theatres, cultivate and celebrate the artistic talent and achievements of the field and promote a larger public understanding of, and appreciation for, the theatre. For more information, visit: www.tcg.org.