My Kerrytown BookFest preview for Pulp

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Books and authors featured at last year’s Kerrytown BookFest.

You needn’t pack a suitcase to attend the 2016 Kerrytown BookFest’s “Travels with Books” programs; you just need a sense of adventure and a passion for the written word.

Yes, the 14th annual BookFest, happening Sunday, September 11 from 10:30 am to 5 pm at the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market and Kerrytown Concert House, is a free celebration of authors, books, bookmaking and more, with events and activities for kids, too.

The day kicks off with coffee and doughnuts, as well a short presentation of the 9th annual Community Book Award; this year’s recipient is Washtenaw Literacy, which provides literacy support, free of charge, to adults by way of trained tutors.

“That was a pretty easy decision,” said KBF president and Aunt Agatha’s Book Shop co-owner Robin Agnew. “There was unanimous agreement. It’s a great organization, and they’re now celebrating their 40th year of doing great things in our community.” READ THE REST HERE

My Concentrate story about professional theater companies putting down roots in small towns

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Joe Zettelmaier, Joey Albright, and Anna Simmons recently founded Roustabout Theatre Company, which is kicking off with events in Milan, Michigan. (Photo by Doug Coombe for Concentrate.)

One of the Ann Arbor area’s oldest and most distinguished theaters, Ann Arbor’s Performance Network Theatre, closed its doors in December after 34 years in business. But multiple smaller theater companies in the area have found considerable success in recent years by moving away from the traditional cultural center of Ann Arbor.

Recent years have seen the arrival of new companies in smaller communities like Milan, Dexter, and Pinckney – places where the local arts marketplace is less crowded, rent and/or building prices are affordable, and a tight-knit community feels a sense of cultural pride and ownership. What’s more, these theaters often bring people (and their wallets) to their communities’ downtowns, making professional theaters a more appealing economic engine. In this unusual moment for local theater, we took a look at how several new area theater companies are choosing where to put down stakes in hopes of long-term success. READ THE REST HERE