RIDGEFIELD, Conn. -- Supporting the arts is Allison Stockel’s main passion in life — so much so that she donates her entire salary back to The Ridgefield Playhouse , a 501c3 nonprofit organization where she serves as executive director.
Stockel, a former producer for television specials and shows along the likes of CNN, ABC, The Food Network, MTV Networks, Lifetime Television, and more, says her real love for the arts, specifically music, bloomed when she found The Ridgefield Playhouse in 2000.
That's when she moved to town from NYC and quickly became involved, first as a board member and then as executive director, a position she has held since 2004. "I heard about the Playhouse when it opened in December of 2000 and loved it -- the history -- and the possibility of what it could be," she says.
Because she began as a volunteer and board member, she says it felt weird to take a salary once she got the full-time position.
"I do what I do because I love this place -- it’s not a job to me -- It’s a labor of love."
What makes The Playhouse so unique and why she's so passionate is the fact that it's only 500 seats yet still attracts big names. "If you have ever seen someone like Joan Jett, Melissa Etheridge, Willie Nelson, Peter Frampton or even The Beach Boys in this size venue -- it’s like having them perform for you in your living room -- it's so intimate and special," she said.
Add to that the "Norman Rockwell" charm of Ridgefield and the fact that there are plenty of other sophisticated art venues -- Stockel cites a nationally recognized contemporary art museum, a symphony orchestra, a Chorale, and a nationally known performing arts center -- "in addition to having a wonderful local Theater Barn, Art Guild, music center for kids to perform and other amazing arts organizations, is just unbelievable."
Stockel's other philanthropic activities include The Women’s Center, which helps abused women and children; The Lounsbury House, a historic landmark in Ridgefield; The Hillside Food Outreach, where she delivers food to low-income families; Ridgefield’s A Better Chance, where she has been a host parent to students for the past five years; and many more, including SPHERE, Ability Beyond Disability, Danbury Music Center, The Ridgefield Chorale, and Sandy Hook Promise, to name a few.
And for more information on The Playhouse, go to www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org/ .