Opening Doors initiative provides free space for community artists

WEST ORANGE, NJ — Luna Stage has announced Opening Doors, a new initiative to provide artists in Valley neighborhood of the Oranges with cost-free access to the professional theater’s spaces, resources and staff. The program is sponsored by Valley National Bank.

“Opening Doors will celebrate the diverse voices that surround our theater, eliminate barriers to participation, support the development of new plays and nurture the next generation of artists,” Luna Stage artistic director Ari Laura Kreith said. “Playwrights will be able to workshop and develop new plays. Actors will have the opportunity to rehearse and receive feedback on their work, prepare auditions and develop solo material. Schools and community groups will have access to performance space for year-end projects and special events.”

Luna Stage is a professional Equity theater dedicated to developing and producing vibrant plays about local and global experiences. 

“We are excited to be ‘opening doors’ with Luna Stage, an anchor of revitalization in the Valley Arts District, to provide local theater artists with access to the community based creative resources that Luna offers,” said Chris Forno, a senior vice president at Valley National Bank who also serves as a member of the Luna Stage board.

Access to studio space is essential to theater artists. 

“We are frequently approached by local playwrights seeking development space and time, local actors seeking studio opportunities to polish audition material and develop their craft, and community groups and schools seeking performance space for projects and showcases,” Kreith said.

When possible, Luna makes rehearsal spaces available to artists during the day when its administrative office is open. During the pandemic, the company continued to make the building available to local artists to support community resilience and creativity. Community members shot independent films, recorded performances to livestream and developed new plays while the building was closed for public performances. The theater also offered space free of charge to an arts education program that had lost its building.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, we find that the need for affordable community arts space has increased as other local organizations dedicated to arts practice have closed. To meet the needs of emerging artists, we needed to find a way to open our space on weeknights and on weekends. We are deeply grateful to Valley National Bank for supporting this initiative,” Kreith said.

Artists interested in applying for the program can visit