Taylor goes to dramatic lengths to get conference

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NATCHEZ — After some cajoling and much preparation, the Mississippi Theater Association will have its annual conference in Natchez.

Director of the Natchez Little Theater Layne Taylor said he, along with many others, have been working tirelessly to get the convention to town.

Taylor said the process of getting the four-day conference, which will be in January, in town, began at the end of last year and very beginning of this year.

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“We brought the Mississippi Theater Association down here,” he said. “They were quite impressed with what they saw.”

In fact, Stephen Cunetto, the executive director of the organization, said he liked the local theater’s strong presence in town.

“We liked the fact that Natchez Little Theater is such a driving force in the community and in partnering with the city,” Cunetto said.

So much so, Cunetto said other towns could do well modeling after Natchez.

Another major factor was he said the venues are all so close together.

Taylor said the venues that will be utilized are the Eola, the Hampton Inn and Suites, the convention center, community center and the theater.

“Having it all downtown made it conducive for walking from one venue to the other,” Cunetto said.

Taylor said he worked very hard with Brett Brinegar and Jim Coy to get convention here.

Cunetto said it showed.

“The hospitality that we were seeing from Layne and Brett and Dr. Coy was just outstanding,” he said.

Taylor said the convention could bring up to 1,000 people which is a huge bonus for the city.

“The reason I worked so hard to bring the convention here was because of the fact it’s an annual event that tends to rotate,” he said.

He hopes that if all goes well, it will come back every few years.

Cunetto explained that the conference is very multi-faceted.

Bringing together community, high school, college and university theaters together, it’s a statewide festival, he said.

“It’s several festivals wrapped up in one, actually six happening simultaneously,” he said.

The festivals are productions put on by each theater level, he said.

Workshops will also be offered that include stage technology, costume, make up and movement.

Taylor said the whole city really pitched in when it came to organizing things to make this possible.