On a recent evening, Heather and Adam Stillwell sat in the chairs of the Williamsburg Library Theatre that, just a few weeks before, the couple was unsure would be occupied for Williamsburg Creative Collective's debut production.
Over three performances of "The Rocky Horror Show," 400 people would fill those seats. And then rise for standing ovations.
"It was just utterly amazing. Because you have all of these things that coalesce and come together," Heather said. " … the end result was good."
As founders of Williamsburg Creative Collective, a new arts advocacy group, the Stillwells hope to converge many elements of the artistic community. And, they believe, the end result will be good.
The collective started as a theater project. Adam is no stranger to community theater, and the couple wanted to produce Richard O'Brien's "The Rocky Horror Show" locally.
In planning the show, Heather noticed a need: "Is there an organization that would perhaps do this content, or similar content? Who'd be willing to take a risk?" she said.
And not just a risk in content, but in medium. "Things that are not necessarily supported by a traditional theater group – or really any type of group," said Justin Giroux, who played the lead in "The Rocky Horror Show."
"It is not just a theater group," Giroux said. "(Adam) and Heather have seen a need in the community for various types of artists to support one another."
The collective is just that, a collective. Creative people working with and supporting each other, unrestricted by artistic divides or demographics.
While the collective will continue in theatrical endeavors, the Stillwells said other projects could include classes, exhibitions, films. They're even looking at a USO show idea.
"The point is, is that who's willing to back or support or to devote energy and time into a project," Heather said. "I think we could help people in that respect. And I think we'll all be richer for it."
In doing so, the collective hopes to pull in new audiences and participants. "Someone who maybe hasn't gone to theater or who hasn't participated or had the chance for their work to be shown," Heather said.
The collective, a 501(c)(7) nonprofit organization, will hold a general meeting in the coming months to elect officers, create bylaws and begin the project proposal process.
"I would encourage anyone who's got a spark in them, or an idea that they've really … given serious consideration," Heather said. "Join us and see what a partnership with us could possibly do."
For the Stillwells, "The Rocky Horror Show" was a promising start. They estimated around 30 people from around the region combined time and talents to make the show happen. The show offered free admission, asking for $10 donations. It raised $2,000, which the collective split with the Williamsburg Regional Library.
"That's a great way to start our adventure, so to speak," Heather said. "Because it's just not for ourselves, it's giving back to the community."
Keep up with the Williamsburg Creative Collective on Facebook: facebook.com/WilliamsburgCreativeCollective. Contact the group at email@example.com.
Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.