OCEAN CITY – The Joshua M. Freeman Foundation announced Tuesday the 2015 summer season of The Freeman Stage at Bayside will feature a diverse offering of dance, theatre, children’s performances, and live music to include 16 national recording artists.
“We couldn’t be more excited about the mix of classic and contemporary artists that our eighth season will offer to our guests.” Joshua M. Freeman Foundation Executive Director Patti Grimes said. “So many gifted and award-winning artists are scheduled to grace our beautiful stage. We hope that the performances in 2015 will expose new patrons to our diverse offerings and the importance of arts in the community, while continuing to be an inspiration for generations of families to come together for lifelong memories. Because of the generous support of organizations like our Season Sponsors — Sodoka, Inc. Charitable Foundation, and Schell Brothers — we are able to again offer free admission to many of our events this summer. As well, we will welcome back the PNC Foundation as a sponsor of our Saturday morning children’s series performances. It’s these kind of partnerships that are necessary for the continued success of our mission at The Freeman Stage at Bayside and in our communities.”
In addition to bringing family and neighbors together, the arts also fuel the economy, Grimes furthered.
“We understand the positive impact the arts bring to our local community with approximately 205,000 patrons visiting the Freeman Stage since its inception in 2008. We have helped to bring over $6 million into our local economy just on performance nights,” she said.
Grimes introduced Delaware Economic Development Office Director Alan Levin, who thanked the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation for its “labor of love.”
According to Levin, when Delaware Gov. Jack Markell took office in 2009, tourism was a $1.7 billion industry in the State of Delaware. Today that industry has grown to a $2.9 billion, and with over 40,000 working in the field.
“When we look at the concert schedule [at Freeman Stage] … and the previous acts that have been here … these are huge national acts in Selbyville, Del. How did they get here? It makes sense for them, it makes sense for the community that we all live in, and it makes sense for the children that are growing up here. This is not just a performance stage. This is a stage that performs life and really makes a difference. Thank you for making a difference for Delaware,” Levin said.
After much suspense, Joshua M. Freeman Foundation President and Chair Michelle Freeman announced Freeman Stage 2015 headliners.
“You have heard about our progress in growth. We are a foundation on a mission. Our success and our future will result in fulfilling needs in our community to present the arts by the support of our sponsors and grant money that we have received from national, state and county resources. We are beyond grateful for that support that we receive from you, our sponsors and our volunteers,” Freeman said. “We do it all to deliver exceptional patron experiences at the Freeman Stage at Bayside.”
For most of her life, Freeman donated her time to work with many organizations in enhancing the community.
“When my husband died, I made the decision to channel my grief into purpose, and created a foundation in Josh’s name to preserve his legacy and support our community by bringing hope and joy through the arts. I wasn’t quite sure how this vision would become a reality but I was positive of two things. One, I knew Sussex County was a arts desert, and two, that this foundation would figure out a way to present high quality art performances that would bring our community together and create lifelong memories for residents,” Freeman said.
According to Freeman, in The Freeman Stage at Bayside’s first season 13,500 patrons visited the venue, and last year 51,000 patrons came to the stage.
“I think you will agree that we are fulfilling a need in our community. In fact, many of our performances sell out and our venue is bursting at the seams,” Freeman said. “Our Board of Directors are furthering due diligence in determining the feasibility of building a larger venue o accommodate our growth and the ability to offer larger performances. At the same time our experiment continues with increasing number of national recording artists at Freeman Stage Bayside, along with dance, musical theatre, Shakespearean theatre, opera, symphony, and all types of music in between.”
In all the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation will provide 70 performances throughout Sussex County in 2015 with 54 of those performances happening at The Freeman Stage at Bayside.
“Once again this season we invite you to enjoy the stage in your life. Our season will invite generations to attend performances at the stage. We expect to see families enjoying music under the stars, date nights, and grandparents bringing their grandchildren to enjoy their first fine arts experiences,” Freeman said.
The 16 national recording artists include Rosanne Cash on June 27, Daryl Hall & John Oates on June 29, The Beach Boys on July 2, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue on July 3, Melissa Etheridge & Blondie on July 8, The Wailers on July 10, Heart on July 24, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on July 25, Indigo Girls on July 29, Preservation Hall Jazz Band on July 31, Colbie Caillat & Christina Perri on Aug. 4, Lyle Lovett and His Large Band on Aug. 13, Rusted Root on Aug. 28, and Aaron Tippin on Sept. 11. Combined, performers from the 2015 season have 50 Grammy nominations, 16 Grammy wins and four are members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Among the performances scheduled this season are such crowd favorites as the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Clear Space Theatre Group, the Bronx Wanderers, the First State Ballet Theatre, Cherish the Ladies, and Classic Albums Live — who will be performing a tribute to Pink Floyd’s iconic album “Dark Side of the Moon.”
Performers new to the outdoor stage this summer include The Barefoot Movement, The Stickers, Al Chez and the Brothers of Funk, the Judy Carmichael Trio, and many more.
A Sept. 11 performance by Tippin will include special guests in the audience from Operation SEAs the Day – a beach week event held in September for veterans who are recovering from injuries sustained while serving our country. Two nights of “Locals Under the Lights,” where local artists will have their moment in the spotlight, will also be back in 2015.
Tickets for all performances go on sale online to the public Monday, April 13. For more information on this season’s events, or to find out how to volunteer at The Freeman Stage, call 302-436-3015 or visit www.freemanstage.org.