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The Carter Payne is pictured on Thursday, January 5, 2017. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette

The challenges of running a small performing arts organization can be numerous.

Branding, marketing, ticketing and often the biggie: venue. As in, where the heck are we going to give the people what they want?

To combat that, J&R Theatre Enterprises and The Carter Payne recently announced ARTx, a new arts and entertainment consortium made up of five local groups: Star Bar Players, Counterweight Theatre Lab, Improv Colorado, The Antici-pations Cast and Unsupervised Improv. The organizations will unite to produce plays, shadowcasts, improv comedy, workshops and other events throughout the year in The Cellar at Carter Payne, a 120-year-old stone church near downtown that’s also home to brewery Local Relic and farm-to-table eatery Immerse Cuisine.

ARTx founders will introduce the collective during First Friday Downtown and unveil each group’s upcoming season. The free event is from 5 to 8 p.m. at 320 S. Weber St.

“We want to make more cool stuff,” said Jeff Zearfoss, co-founder of ARTx and one of the Carter Payne owners. “The more barriers we can remove for small performing arts groups to join forces, the more effective we can be at bringing cool stuff to the community.”

Consortium members will work to keep a regular schedule of performances rotating through the space, share the infrastructure of putting on a show, including ticketing and marketing, and cross-pollinate their audiences by promoting each other’s work at shows.

“We get a venue, the same place to perform every time, which we haven’t had for a little while. And there are other theater artists we’re sharing resources with, like equipment and expertise,” said Ethan Everhart, Counterweight Theatre Lab’s artistic director.

“We’re trying to make theater and other performances more of a regular thing you do, instead of a big event you do a couple of times a year. We want to make it part of people’s lives.”

The Cellar has 1,000 square feet, seats 72 people and operates mostly as a black box theater. Food from Immerse Cuisine and beer from Local Relic can be purchased during shows.

“We’re excited to be a space where cool community art can happen,” said Zearfoss. “It really demonstrates there’s a lack of cool accessible spaces for performing arts and maybe arts in a more general sense.”

Contact the writer: 636-0270

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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