THE CAPITAL AREA 241 NEW STAGE THEATRE For more than fifty years, New Stage Theatre, located in the Belhaven neighborhood of Jackson, has offered a professional theatre environment for the people of Mississippi and surrounding states. Jane Reid Petty—with the help of a seven-member board, the American National Theatre Academy, and Actors’ Equity Association—established New Stage Theatre as a nonprofit organization in 1965. Initially located in a 150-seat church on the corner of Gallatin and Hooker Streets, the theatre held its first season of plays in early 1966. After thirteen successful seasons, New Stage moved to its present location in 1978. There, with more auditorium and office space, New Stage was able to build on its already significant contribution to the arts in Mississippi. From the 1980s to present, the governing board and members of New Stage—along with many community partners—have worked to ensure that Mississippians have access to the highest quality theatre facility and resources, top artists and playwrights, and innovative projects. When the Eudora Welty New Play Series was established in 1984 in honor of the writer and lifetime New Stage board member, Petty spoke of the vision for the program and the theatre as whole, explaining that its focus on new work stems from the state’s rich literary tradition and “provides the creative meeting of playwright and performing artists that nurtures the art of the dramatist and the present and future vitality of the American theatre.” Today, New Stage continues to bring new plays to life through the Welty Series and other programs, and hosts a variety of other plays each year. The entire facility—which contains the 364-seat Meyer Crystal Auditorium, the Jimmy Hewes Room, housing for actors, and office space—was named the Jane Reid Petty Theatre Center for its founder in 1997. The 12,000-square- foot complex is used not only for performances, but also for educational and community outreach purposes such as internships and theatre classes for people of all ages. In 1995, New Stage received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts for its many years of dedication to theatre production and education in Mississippi.