PHOTOSTREAM: Near West Theatre Benefit


Each year, they get closer. An $800 Community Development Block Grant got Near West Theatre started in Ohio City in 1977, and a year later, Stephanie Morrison-Hrbek took the helm. Artist Director Bob Navis came along in 1980.


Now 37 years later, they’ve changed the lives of more than 15,000 children, teens & adults with their groundbreaking process of using the arts not as entertainment, but the way they’re meant to be used, as a tool to teach us who we are as human beings and about our place in the world.

In 1999, they became an independent non-profit, and soon their resultant strategic plan had them identifying a new theatre space in Gordon Square. With $250,000 left of a $7.3 million building fund, they should be producing their first production in their new space within a year, in the Spring of 2015.

Each year, the theatre honors one of their key supporters at their annual benefit. 2014’s “Love Makes The World Go Round” honored attorney and activist Jan Roller on 02.15.14 , whose leadership on the NWT board was instrumental in their independence and their new home.

Over 50 children, teens and adults performed excerpts of NWT productions, melded with their own words professing what they’ve learned in the orbit of NWT. If that didn’t get the tears to flow, Bob, Stephanie and Jan’s heartfelt comments probably did.

Always one of the most authentic, genuine and satisfying benefit events of the year, NWT’s use of Trinity Cathedral’s nave with an in-the-round stage allowed everyone in the room to share the love and join hands in support of one of the nation’s most innovative and powerful arts organizations.