VENICE, Fla. -- The American Association of Community Theatre World Fest has been going on at the Venice Theatre this week, and hundreds of actors and behind the scenes artists from around the globe are in attendance.
"It's a week-long celebration for theatre with shows, workshops, special performances," says Kristofer Geddie, Venice Theatre’s Director of Diversity.
The festival is a chance for the performers and craftspeople to highlight their skills and meet new people, and it’s a chance for Venice to show itself off to an international audience.
"People come here and they are like, why did we never know about this place?” Geddie says. “It is incredible. You have the beaches, the food -- you have everything in this little quite town."
"Exploring the place, Venice Florida is beautiful," says Percy Speelman, one of 17 actors from South Africa that made the trip. "It's amazing. The people here in Venice are so welcoming. Where I am staying is so beautiful. … We have people at the Hampton. We have people at the Ramada. We are overflowing at the Hampton."
And that international recognition comes with a fresh injection of good ol' American dollars.
"We did 200 lunches a day for six days," says Kay Kropac with Cafe Venice. Kropac says the festival has been good for business downtown, not only because of the performers, but also thanks to the roughly 500 theatergoers that have come each day.
"It's real exciting,” Kropac says. “It helps bring a lot of people to the town in June and we are seeing some new faces. [It’s] nice to see so many people on the street."
This is the second time Venice has hosted the event. The festival touts 700 local room nights and a $1 million economic impact. For those attending the event, though, it's just a part of coming together to share a singular passion.
"You get to see some of the people who speak none of the same languages communicating through the love of theatre," Geddie says.