Comedy series seeks to help town, benefit nonprofits
Comedy series seeks to revitalize town, benefit local nonprofits
Evie Hungerford has seen the Town of Indian Head morph from a thriving small town to an area struggling to keep businesses afloat. The former public relations and marketing business owner has lived in Indian Head all her life and aspires to bring the town back to its former glory.
“When I was growing up here in the 1950s, Indian Head was a dream place,” Hungerford said. “Everything was walkable. Skating rinks, a swimming pool, movie theater, just anything you could think of.”
The once “booming” town, as Hungerford described it, boasted three grocery stores, three car dealerships, Ely’s department store and other amenities that made it a viable place to live. Now, not only are there no grocery stores in Indian Head, but the last bank shut its doors in December and empty storefronts are a common sight throughout the town.
Seeing how Indian Head has changed makes Hungerford despondent, but also determined in her efforts.
With the help of a Maryland State Bond Bill grant and delegation support, Hungerford said a revitalization and renovation is underway for the Black Box Theatre, home of the Indian Head Center for the Arts.
The theater — previously a car dealership, meeting space for the town’s business association and where Hungerford took and taught dance lessons — was donated by the town in 2001. Renovations have made it useable for meetings, office spaces and more for nonprofits to host their functions.
The arrangement is a “winwin” for artists and nonprofits, Hungerford said. Where artists have a venue to perform or nonprofits have a stage to host fundraising events, the town regains entertainment opportunities.
“I am determined that this is going to succeed,” Hungerford said of her mission. “...It’s a labor of love for a community that was so good to me.”
The theater’s monthly “Comedy with a Cause” series merges entertainment with philanthropy as ticket sales for shows benefit selected charities as well as the theater space.
The next show is tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. featuring comedians Mike Aronin and Jared Stern. Both comics are from Maryland and deliver “clean” shows, according to promoter Irwin Weinstein. Though their content may not be PG rated, Weinstein said “foul words” are not part of the script.
The owner of his own entertainment company, Kaleidoscope Comedy, Weinstein has been planning events and promoting comedy shows for Martini’s Restaurant and Lounge in White Plains for close to eight years. He joined efforts to create “Comedy with a Cause” last year.
“Realistically it’s a small theater so the local organizations should jump on it,” Weinstein said of nonprofits participating with the theater. “All you have to do is let people know you’re doing this and you’re going to make some money.”
That’s the thought process that led tomorrow’s beneficiary, Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing, to the Black Box doors.
“In the nonprofit world, there’s limited opportunity for exposure,” said Mindi Roberts, chief development officer for Project Healing Waters., adding that local events like comedy nights are a way to get the word out.
Project Healing Waters is an organization dedicated to
helping active military service personnel and disabled veterans heal physically and emotionally through fly fishing and outdoor activities. Through the process of learning fly fishing comes the therapy, Roberts said, and a sense of normalcy and camaraderie.
The organization has 212 programs across the country with its headquarters in La Plata. Though a Southern Maryland program has yet to be established, Roberts said it’s in the works. Raising funds and awareness through events like “Comedy with a Cause” and gaining volunteer support is a step in the right direction for that goal.
“Community engagement goes both ways,” Hungerford said. “I want nonprofits to see this as their special place and realize its their marketing and PR opportunity, it’s affordable and unique.”
But despite the opportunity it presents, Weinstein said finding organizations to participate in the monthly shows isn’t easy.
“It sounds weird because you’d think there’d be tons of organizations that would want to participate,” Weinstein said. “It’s kind of
surprising the difficulty in finding organizations that want to participate but it’s a good cause and it’s worth doing… It’s just a matter of people knowing we’re doing it, it takes time for people to see that something is happening.”
In addition to Project Healing Waters, Hungerford said the USO and parks and recreation, among others, have been beneficiaries of the comedy nights and IHCA has partnered with Port Tobacco Players, the College of Southern Maryland and Hickory Dickory Dark Productions to host events — but Hungerford knows many more organizations could use the exposure and event space.
“You cannot lament what you don’t have if you’re not going to do anything to help it,” Hungerford said, gushing about the possibilities the space could bring to the town. “That’s what I’m trying to do here with the arts: look towards the future.”
For more information on the Indian Head Center for the Arts, the Black Box Theatre and its upcoming shows, go to www.indianheadblackbox.org or call 301-743-3040.
The Indian Head Center for the Arts hosts a “Comedy with a Cause” series at the Black Box Theatre in Indian Head. Their next show is Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Evie Hungerford, a lifelong Indian Head resident, is working to bring entertainment back to the town while supporting local nonprofits through the “Comedy with a Cause” series.