• Anthony Chase

"Association of Regional Theater Artists" Inaugural Event

ARTA holds "Winter Storm"


ARTA President and Founder Ben Michael Moran (All photos by Mary Loliger)

The Association of Regional Theater Artists began with a grass roots membership of just ten has now swelled to nearly 250 members representing all facets of the Buffalo theater community.


Called "ARTA," the organization is member driven and involves artists of all disciplines, working in theaters across Western New York. With a common interest in the quality and value of their theatrical work and careers, the mission of ARTA is "to provide its members with community, advocacy, education and opportunity, in turn enhancing the richness of the live theater produced in our region."


The group held its inaugural Winter Storm event at Matinee February 16, 2020. The aim of the event was multi-fold: to introduce the organization to those not yet familiar, increase membership (currently free; just join the Facebook page), allow members to contribute ideas to ARTA's Council and support the Community pillar of ARTA's mission. 

ARTA officers (l. to r.): Donna Hoke, secretary; Sabrina Kahwaty, stenographer; Kristen Tripp Kelley, vice president; Ben Michael Moran, president; Charmagne Chi, treasurer

At the event, ARTA president Ben Michael Moran also introduced three additional pillars of Advocacy, Education, and Opportunity, as well as the initiatives under way for each.


  • For Advocacy, ARTA has begun compiling a list of cost-free theater standards, with the aim of formally recognizing and awarding theaters that show both accomplishment and effort.

  • For Education, a spring directing workshop taught by Chris Kelly and a summer branding workshop taught by Michael Walline will be offered for donation only to ARTA members. In addition, ARTA now maintains a free and permanent play exchange library at Matinee, so the next time you’re headed there, bring a play to share. 

  • For Opportunity, ARTA will be launching an ongoing series of live Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) sessions for various disciplines that will be hosted on the ARTA Facebook page.

If you missed the event, but are still interested in ARTA, you can find more information and join their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/arta.wny

Jake Hayes, Alexia Guzman, and Jessie Miller

Christ Best and Diane DiBernardo

Photos by Mary Loliger

When she wasn't rehearsing her opening remarks, Charmagne Chi manned the door.

ARTA members filled out surveys to help direct the course of the organization.

Daryl Semira, Kristen Tripp Kelley, and Darleen Pickering Hummert

Nathanial Higgins and Jon May

Patrick Cameron, Ben Michael Moran, Emily Yancey

Sabrina Kahwaty and Michele Marie Roberts

Vanessa Dawson and Sara Jo Kukulka

Shakora Purks and John Patrick Patti

Shelby Converse, Elizabeth Oddy, and Elliot Fox

Matt Refermat, Kate LoConti and Adam Yellen

Lindsay Salamone and Mara Morris

Mary Loliger and Vivian DelBello, Chair of the Events Committee

Mary Loliger and Danielle Burning

Josie DiVincenzo, Adam Yellen, and Diane Jones

Jessie Miller and Steven Ott

Emily Yancey and Danielle Burning

Jeremy Kruezer, Diane Jones, and Anna Jones

Jacob Albarella, Daryl Semira

Jamie Nablo sold 50:50 tickets; Charmagne Chi won and donated the money back to ARTA.

James Cichocki, Trevor Dugan, Danielle Burning, and Madeline Allard

Jeremy Kruezer, David Wysocki, Lindsay Salamone

Diane DiBernardo, Jon May, and Anne DeFazio


Diane DiBernardo and Shakora Purks

Diane DiBernardo and Amelia Scinta, Chair of the Education Committee

Derek Moran and Anne DeFazio

Dave Spychalski, Second Generation Theatre Artistic Director Kelly Copps, Bethany Burrows, MusicalFare Managing Director Doug Weyand

Danielle Burning and Brad Loliger

Ben Michael Moran and Kristen Tripp Kelley, as the party got livelier

Bethany Burrows and Kelly Copps

Charmagne Chi and Aleks Malejs sporting an ARTA purple hairdo

Chris Best and Brad Loliger

Bartender hosts extraordinaire, Rex Keppel and Kevin Shanahan, who opened Matinee especially for the event

Chris Best and Dan Greer

Chris Kelly and Ben Michael Moran

Christ Best and Diane DiBernardo

ARTA Vice President Kristen Tripp Kelley, ARTA President Ben Michael Moran, Irish Classical Theatre Company Artistic Director Kate LoConti Alcocer, Patrick Cameron

ARTA Vice President Kristen Tripp Kelley

ARTA prom pose- Chris Kelly, Ben Michael Moran, and Kristen Tripp Kelley perform a musical number

©2019 by Theater Talk ... and I'm Anthony Chase

Buffalo, NY, USA