One Longfellow Square, one of Portland’s most diverse venues, has come under the new direction of long-time Portland art patron Kippy Rudy.
In her years of participating in Portland’s vivid arts and performance scene, Rudy influenced the development several organizations, including the Maine Historical Society, the Portland Stage Company, the Portland Museum of Art and PORT Opera. Now she is bringing her expertise to one of Portland’s most eclectic venues. On Oct. 12, OLS welcomed Tinariwen, an African group playing what they describe as “close to the American Blues” and only eight days later featured Spose, a local Maine rapper. The venue boasts a broad spectrum of ethnic and cultural backgrounds through music. singer/songwriter folk, bluegrass and blues are all genres regularly represented.
“I really love working in the arts in Portland,” Rudy said. “I consider it a privilege to be able to do so for such a long time. I have attended shows here over the years, many with my daughter, and feel honored to think I can play a part in helping the OLS staff and board create a more stable future.”
With over ten years in the arts and performance industry, she claims she is confident in her ability to help OLS advance to the next level. Her approach is multifaceted. “I have an extensive background in fundraising, which will help us to build a better base of support for OLS. I have been a part of several organizational turnarounds over the years, where these arts institutions were able to re-invent themselves, become more audience-centered, and profitable,” she said.
When asked what she least appreciated about the venue, she easily decided, “our on-line ticketing service, and various technical problems—this is frustrating to our audiences and staff, and will be addressed.” She was just as facile in her description of what she most appreciates. “I feel a tremendous sense of community at OLS. We are more like a modern-day urban grange hall than a stuffy music auditorium. You don’t just come to OLS to see a show. You experience it and engage in a conversation with the performer. I think this is a very rare and very special experience.”
Rudy still plans to make a few changes to the venue. “I intend to solve some of our physical space challenges,” she said. “We have no designated box office or adequate lobby and bar space. This creates real challenges that impact the visitor.”
Attentiveness to bar space is integral; things are truly looking up for the OLS. Rudy is passionate and devoted not only to OLS, but to the arts and performance community in Portland.
Her goals for the future are simple, “I want to see OLS thrive into the next decade, where I will bring my younger daughter to shows as well. I hope we become a home to children’s and senior’s programs during the day and fill the house most evenings of the week. I hope we can strengthen the diversity of programs we offer with more world music and jazz. Surviving and thriving are always the goals of a performing arts space.”
Portland music fans, keep on the lookout. Kippy Rudy is in town, and she plans to bring OLS to the top.