The Grand Center Theatre Crawl returns this weekend with free performances by 24 theatre companies – including A&E grantees and Centene Center for the Arts tenants – throughout the Grand Center Arts District.

Celebrating its fifth year in 2017, the Crawl’s objective is to showcase the work of medium to small size companies for new audiences. Matthew Kerns of the Grand Center Arts District, who manages the Crawl in partnership with St. Louis Public Radio, notes the larger venues in the neighborhood have been quick to support the effort.

“Last year we needed a space on the fly and the Fox opened their doors to the lobby and let us perform in there,” said Kerns. “It’s a gesture of goodwill from everybody who is donating their spaces to us. Big and small [arts organizations] alike are working together to foster growth of the overall arts community.”

The Crawl has grown exponentially since 2013 with more than 1,200 attendees in 2016. It has grown so much in fact, that the Crawl will now span two days and include additional signage and venues throughout the District – including A&E’s Centene Center for the Arts.

The event begins in Strauss Park. All audience members who register in advance are assigned a starting venue. From there, audiences will “crawl” throughout the District to the other venues.

Each performance is “bite-sized” – just 10-15 minutes each – in an effort to encourage audiences to try something new and provide a sample of each theatre company’s work.

“This year will be particularly interesting because we have things happening on both ends of the District,” says Kerns. “You’ll see some new musicals, operas, new plays… even a new dance piece. It really runs the spectrum of what we have to offer here in the city.”

The following A&E grantees and Centene Center for the Arts tenants will be participating in the 2017 Grand Center Theatre Crawl June 30 and July 1.

  • Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble at the Centene Center for the Arts.
  • Prison Performing Arts at the  Centene Center for the Arts.
  • ERA Theatre at the Barnett on Washington.
  • That Uppity Theatre Company at Lucha.
  • Upstream Theater at the Contemporary Art Museum.
  • New Jewish Theatre at the Marcelle.

The Grand Center Theatre Crawl is June 30 (6:30 – 9:30 pm; registration 6 pm) and July 1 (1-4 pm; registration 12:30 pm) beginning in Strauss Park. Performances are free. For a complete list of participating companies and venues or to register, visit