With a $10,000 loan from their grandfather Abraham Blackman, identical twin brothers Gary Blackman and Mark Blackman started ArtsPower in 1985 out of a basement home office. “Pretty humble beginnings, but we had such a strong vision for ArtsPower, it didn’t really matter what we didn’t have – we had to make it work,” Mark admits.
Under the twins’ stewardship, ArtsPower is now one of America’s most preeminent producers of professional theatre for young and family audiences. “We are very grateful that 35 years later, ArtsPower is a national force that is relied upon for its outstanding theatrical productions and respected for the fine customer service we provide,” Gary said. “We think Grandpa Blackman would be proud.”
With a genuine passion to advance the artistic quality of theatre for young people, ArtsPower burst onto the national theatre-for-young-audience’s scene in 1993 in St. Louis, Missouri at the Performing Arts for Youth Conference and Showcase. Following a juried audition, ArtsPower’s musical, Anne of Green Gables, was selected to perform at the conference.
The response to that performance was so overwhelming that we were able to fill the following year’s 20-week tour for that production in just two weeks. Galvanized by the success of that performance, ArtsPower launched as a national touring, Equity theatre company in the 1994-95 season.
Since 1985, ArtsPower has added 35 original musicals and dramas to the repertoire of quality, American theatre for young people. We have presented more than 16,500 performances in 3,500 theatres, performing arts centers, university auditoriums, and schools throughout 49 states, District of Columbia, and Canada.
We have heard the applause of more than 14.5 million people, most of them young people and many of whom had never before seen a live, professional theatre production.