A Letter From The Executive Director

This week is a milestone in my family’s life. This week, one year ago, my husband and I saw in the paper that the Indiana Theater tenants had left and the building was….well, it was a blank slate once again. A few members of the community decided to see if some concerts would be possible and under the guidance of Chuck Olson, the first shows had been booked for the fall. My husband and I looked at each other and said, “We have to be a part of this.” We asked around to find out where the committee was for us to join.

We quickly learned that there was no committee. There were just a few people putting in some volunteer hours on a wing and a prayer that someone might step up and see what the Indiana Theater could be.

It turned out that we were those people.


In the course of a week, we went from wondering how we could help to filling out the paperwork to become a nonprofit called the Downtown Theater Project. Our mission was simple: bring back The Indiana Theater to the community and make it a place where everyone would feel welcome and where the arts could blossom and enrich our lives. It has been the best year.

We have found so much more than just a theater and a place for the arts. We have found a deeply generous community with so many people seeing what we are doing and saying, “We have to be a part of this, too.” Some of those people have become board members; some of them volunteer to sling popcorn; some of them faithfully buy a ticket to every single event we hold. I grew up in Indiana, and I have always known it was a special place. But this past year, as I stepped into the role of Executive Director of this nonprofit and worked and sweated and dreamed, I have gotten to experience this community in new ways that have brought me such joy.

In the past year, we have had big names take a chance on this little theater. We hosted the Clarks and Billy Price. We sold out a Joe Saylor visit back to town. We had Joe Grushecky fall in love with the place so much he’s brought an ongoing concert series to our theater called the Songwriter’s Showcase.

And we’ve had moments, too, that won’t ever make the news. One of our board members hosts classic movies every Wednesday and Sunday. We have a small set of regulars we know by name who faithfully come each week. We host a group of poets who read and share their lives with us at Poeming through the Dark. We set up Legos in the lobby on family day and my little girls make theater friends and a whole new generation gets to experience the communal space of a small-town theater. You should join us for some of these things.

In fact, you should join us for a lot of these things.

Our community has shown up and packed the house and said yes and yes and yes to this place. Your generosity has been tremendous. I can’t imagine a downtown now where the lights of the marquee are out and the lobby sits closed and dark. I don’t think anyone wants that—so many of you have found (and re-found!) the energy and excitement that a local theater can bring.

On top of that, you make this town easy for outsiders to fall in love with us, too. So many musicians have gone back home and said, “You gotta check this place out in Indiana, Pa. There’s not a space like it anywhere in or around Pittsburgh. Go there. Play. You have to be a part of this.”

And they’ve come. The people we are booking are names that are known around the world. They are musicians used to far bigger venues, drawn to the space we have here and the joy of this community.


But something strange has been happening—the performers we are bringing in might be known around the world, but they are new to us. Honestly, many of them are new to me. Maybe they aren’t the familiar or the “standard” bands you are used to. And some of you aren’t coming, because you don’t know the band or are unsure of what an event might be like.

But I’m telling you…. this place is magic. I was brought to tears at a Songwriter’s Showcase (our acoustic behind-the-music series) when a musician I had never heard of told the story of how the song “Hallelujah” impacted him and then he sang it. I experienced the incredible joy of a polka band playing their heart out to a smaller-than-expected crowd—it turned into an energetic house party and ohmygoodness we polka’d! Then this nationally known touring band, which stopped here on their way to New York City, came to us and said, “We will play here again. Any time you want us. We have to be a part of this.” They normally play to sellout crowds, but the small group we had still showed them what a treasure our theater is.

I know that your lives are busy, and I know that there are a lot of activities to choose from in our community. And maybe it’s a little bit weird to buy a ticket for a band you don’t know or come to an event that might not be something you are used to. But you’re not just buying a ticket for the thing.

You’re buying a ticket for the Indiana Theater, for the experience that can be found here…unique, intimate, and amazing.

We have some incredible things coming up. Gabe Stillman is coming from Nashville on October 27th and is performing with Bob Beach. This is an up-and-coming star who you will be able to say “hey, I saw him this one time in my little town, and now he’s…”

On November 4th John Vento and the Nied’s Hotel Band is coming from Pittsburgh with the David Granati Band for a charity concert. Kenny Blake is joining them specifically because he wants to play here again. And they are giving out of their own pockets to benefit a local organization that directly helps veterans right here in Indiana County.

And on November 9th, the Songwriter’s Showcase series is back, with behind-the-music stories from Joe Grushecky, Rick Witkowski, Greg Joseph of the Clarks, Kelsey Friday, and Melinda Colaizzi, the founder of Women Who Rock.


Again, maybe none of that means anything to you. Maybe buy a ticket anyway.


Please keep being a part of this. We need you.