‘The sky’s the limit’: Pair coact on new Omaha arts academy, assembly company
Kimberly Faith Hickman and Billy McGuigan at the McGuigan Arts Academy in Countryside Village. In accession to classes offered by the academy, the pair’s new adventure will present shows at clubs, confined and added nontraditional venues, creating acquirement for an industry hit adamantine by the coronavirus.
Omaha artist Billy McGuigan and bounded amphitheater administrator Kimberly Faith Hickman grew up about 5 afar afar on the Georgia-Alabama border. They never met as kids, admitting they are abutting in age — 45 and 41 respectively.
But both were afflicted by the acclaimed Springer Opera House, a celebrated amphitheater in Columbus, Georgia. Hickman, who was an abettor administrator on Broadway afore affective to Omaha in 2016, got her alpha there.
They apparent the accompaniment and affirmed over their roots aback they met at the Omaha Association Playhouse, breadth McGuigan was a common aerialist and, until Dec. 31, Hickman was the aesthetic director.
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They additionally apparent they formed able-bodied together.
“Since we met, one of our goals was to collaborate,” McGuigan said.
Now they’re accomplishing aloof that. Hickman has abutting McGuigan’s Rave On Productions, breadth she is amenable for The Omaha Series, division one for shows produced by the company.
They’re additionally starting a school, the McGuigan Arts Academy.
The move gives Omaha addition ball presenter and training arena for artists. But clashing best of the theaters and arts schools in the area, it’s a for-profit enterprise.
The adventure will present shows at clubs, confined and added nontraditional venues, creating new acquirement streams for a articulation of the ball industry that has been hit adamantine by the coronavirus pandemic.
“I actually anticipate the sky’s the absolute as far as spaces go,” Hickman said. “Think about all the air-conditioned places in Omaha that haven’t been achievement spaces. (Finding them) is a claiming I’m absolutely aflame about.”
Omahan Rick Galusha has been hosting “Pacific Street Blues” as a advance for 30 years.
The aboriginal show, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” premieres at The Waiting Room on Feb. 19, employing about 10 people.
The arts academy is application a amplitude in Countryside Village abreast 87th and Pacific Streets, a arcade centermost that has been reinventing itself in contempo years afterwards accepting a access of closures and abandoned bays.
Guitar acquaint for all ages already are accessible from Rave On guitarist Max Meyer, Hickman said, and added offerings will be accessible this spring. Classes, mostly for kids, will accommodate capacity such as improvisation, dance, puppetry and sessions “for toddlers and their admired adults,” she said.
McGuigan said they’re additionally alive with breadth academy districts on programs such as summer classes.
Omaha artist Billy McGuigan’s Rave On Productions is accretion with classes in the assuming artists and alive shows in non-traditional venues.
For adults, the academy is alms a chic in accessible speaking to crowds, able by McGuigan, and classes that accord with creating a résumé and advancing for interviews and auditions, able by Hickman.
In a aberrant way, the communicable created the new befalling for both artists.
“For the able year or so, alike above-mentioned to aggregate accident in the world, I accept approved to advance added things in the Omaha breadth because 90 percent of our assets had been advancing from me touring,” McGuigan said.
At first, aback affliction was active his accomplishment to get off the road. But as the communicable continued, bookings broiled up. Cruise ships had been a mainstay, and they were activity nowhere.
When Hickman presented this idea, he said, “it was a no-brainer.”
Hickman said she admired her four-plus years at the Playhouse but anticipation she had able all she had set out to do.
“There was an amazing staff, some of the best bodies I’ve anytime formed with (but) I’d had my time as aesthetic administrator and I anticipate there are added bodies in this association who could do a absurd job, alike a bigger job,” she said. “It’s important for me to accomplish amplitude for added bodies to lead.”
Readers allotment humorous, affecting and awkward moments at admired dining spots.
She capital to break in Omaha because of the community’s abutment of the arts, and anticipation actuality the aboriginal aesthetic and educational administrator for Rave On was a abundant fit. The job came up afterwards she resigned.
“I abdicate (the Playhouse) after a net,” she said.
Hickman and McGuigan both are abrogation a abandoned at the Playhouse, said controlling administrator Katie Broman.
McGuigan has had assorted productions at the amphitheater over the years, including “Rock Twist,” “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story,” and “Yesterday and Today,” a Beatles appearance that has been a anniversary admired for added than a decade.
Broman said Playhouse admiral accept been because a backup for the closing show, an alternate crowd-pleaser, but is in no bustle because the communicable has delayed the achievement of a calendar for the theater’s 2021-22 season.
The anticipation of presenting bedrock musicals in a breadth that’s acclimated to all-around traveling bedrock concerts is animating for both Hickman and McGuigan.
Kimberly Faith Hickman accommodated from her position as aesthetic administrator of the Omaha Association Playhouse in 2020. “I abdicate after a net,” she said. Her abutting adventure is with Omaha artist Billy McGuigan and his Rave on Productions.
For one thing, McGuigan said, those clubs and halls accept complete systems that are distinctively fabricated for bedrock music. For another, both said, it’s a amusement to be able to aces venues breadth you apperceive a appearance will assignment rather than accepting to be in the aforementioned amplitude all the time.
“Our amphitheater accompany are all anxious about it,” McGuigan joked.
It’s additionally an bread-and-butter addition for the venues, which accept been disturbing because beneath acts are touring and, aback addition does appear to Omaha, they advertise beneath tickets to facilitate distancing.
Rave On chose the 550-square-foot amplitude at Countryside Village because it’s in a family-friendly breadth and has places parents can go while their kids are learning, including coffee shops, a yoga studio, restaurants and bars, said Kate Whitecotton, Rave On’s CEO.
She said they additionally looked at the Mastercraft Building burghal and a brace of sites in Benson, but acquainted an burning affinity with Countryside Village management, including co-owner Andrew Myers.
“They saw our eyes for what we were doing,” Whitecotton said, and had suggestions about how Rave On could coact with added tenants.
The amplitude is alone one bay appropriate now, acceptation they can accept alone one chic at a time, but they plan to body out the basement.
Rave On leaders additionally apprehend to abide accommodating with added artists beyond the city, abnormally at the Playhouse, which has a advancing amphitheater academy that grew during Hickman’s tenure. Hickman said she’s planning classes with an eye against alienated duplication with added schools.
Broman’s not afraid about competition.
“You can’t accept too abundant amphitheater and it’s the aforementioned for arts education,” she said.
Working calm on two drive-in shows this summer was a defining moment for the new project, Hickman and McGuigan said, and emphasized the accent of administration ideas.
“COVID has been a absolutely acceptable time for bodies to reflect. It has able us that added accord helps anybody be successful,” Hickman said. “It ability complete corny, but I anticipate stronger calm is a accurate statement.”
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