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Rooster Walk, ART officially join forces

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Frequent readers of this blog know that two of my favorite music-related venues are Rooster Walk Music and Arts Festival and the historic Rives Theatre in uptown Martinsville, Virginia.

Johnny Buck, co-founder and executive director of Rooster Walk, announced today that the two nonprofits are officially joining forces.

From the press release, “The boards of Rooster Walk Inc. and Arts at the Rives Theatre (ART), who already often work together to bring live music and arts events to Martinsville-Henry County, recently voted to formalize their relationship by combining under the Rooster Walk umbrella.

Rooster Walk is best-known for producing the family-friendly music and arts festival of the same name every Memorial Day weekend in Axton. Last May’s festival marked the eighth year of the event and the largest attendance on record. The group formerly organized the Turn 5 outdoor concerts at Martinsville Speedway and now puts on the Brewster Walk Craft Beer Festival and Concerts each October in uptown Martinsville. Funds raised by RW events support a variety of charitable ventures in the area, including the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship fund at Martinsville High School and the Rooster Walk Music Instrument Program which collects, repairs and donates band instruments to entry-level band programs in the Martinsville-Henry County public school systems. To date, Rooster Walk Inc. has donated a more than $100,000 to local charities.

ART, formed in 2009 and staffed by volunteers, has put on more than 110 concerts at the historic Rives Theatre. In addition, ART has held concerts at Shining Star Farm in Henry County and hosted numerous of non-concert events at the theatre including stand-up comedians, lectures, art shows, talent shows, birthday parties, political debates, fundraisers and a variety of other civic and community-related functions.

The organizations, each of which was dedicated to promoting music, arts and education in Martinsville-Henry County, already share some volunteers, board members and supporters. With the similarity in mission, it made sense to combine, said Shane Pinkston, a board member of both organizations.

Under the new structure, ART becomes a committee of the Rooster Walk organization, retaining the same mission and budgeting autonomy. From the public’s perspective, not much will change in the programming or charitable donations now that the two have merged. However, board members noted, becoming a single nonprofit organization will allow greater efficiencies in staffing, volunteers, booking of bands, and making more efficient use of funds.

“Speakers and programming at recent Nonprofit Leadership Summits, organized by The Harvest Foundation, inspired us to look for ways we might be duplicating efforts and creating unnecessary competition with one another,” said Rooster Walk Executive Director Johnny Buck. “This move will improve our ability to attract high-quality musical acts and make us more competitive in seeking grant funds in the future.”

The next show will be the Brewster Walk Craft Beer Festival and Concerts on Saturday, Oct. 8, featuring the Steep Canyon Rangers, The Trongone Band and Relacksachian. The beer festival will take place on the section of East Church Street directly in front of the Rives Theatre.

For more information, visit www.roosterwalk.com and www.rivestheatre.org.

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