Charlotte’s Web for the Performing Arts has long been known for presenting an eclectic mix of folk, blues and other types of ‘roots’ music. For most of its 128 years, the focus of what is now the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center has been classical music.
Lani Richardson is the Web’s executive director. She took over the post a few years ago from her mother, Karen Howard, who’d led it for most of its existence. Richardson says she had wanted to make sure the Web could continue, without relying so much on her family.
“We’d do everything because there aren’t the resources within Charlotte’s Web to have somebody to do the taxes, to have somebody to do the marketing, to have somebody to do the booking.”
Richardson says joining with Mendelssohn, and the support it brings with it, will enable the Web to continue as an institution, independent of any individual.
“This partnership, in my mind, really feels like a safe home for the legacy that is Charlotte’s Web.”
Beverly Broyles is Mendelssohn’s executive director. She says several years ago, the organization made a conscious decision to move beyond its classical music club origins. Adding the Web fits that goal.
“Taking Charlotte’s Web into our home would broaden our ability to present a wider range of musical genre. It would give us [an] opportunity to expand educational programs.”
Broyles says the move also creates the opportunity for cross-pollination between the two organizations, and their audiences.
The Web has partnered with Mendelssohn on projects for some time. Richardson says they’re a good match because both share a determination to maintain high standards of programming and performance.
Broyles says the combination will be greater than the sum of its parts- and believes it will be a strong and vital part of the community.
“Together, we’re just going to be able to provide our community in Rockford and beyond a rich diversity of music opportunities and performances.”
Charlotte’s Web begins its 41st season, its first as a part of the Mendelssohn Performing Art Center, on Friday, September 14,th at the Emerson House with folk singer Sara McQuaid.