New York’s Broadway Makers Marketplace Brings Fans of Crafts and Community: NPR

Some of the vendors at the Broadway Makers Marketplace, which offers their handmade products

Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace


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Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace


Some of the vendors at the Broadway Makers Marketplace, which offers their handmade products

Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace

There’s an underground market, with food stalls and shops, down a hallway from the Columbus Circle subway station. And at the far end, where a bar once stood, is an unexpected sight: a display case filled with Broadway memorabilia and fan-made artwork. It’s called the Broadway Creators Market, and last Sunday afternoon it hosted a Broadway bingo party. A dozen people gathered outside the shop, singing show tunes while stamping their bingo cards.

“It’s a ‘for the fans, by the fans’ store, and everything we do here is about the fans,” says Michael Clarkston, Broadway stage manager, director and one of the founders of the Broadway Makers Marketplace. “They asked us to come and create these events for them and that’s what we do. Everything from music Mondays to the songs we do on karaoke nights, to coloring Wednesdays.”

And Clarkston hopes that after these events, fans will buy some of the crafts in the store – as did teenager Caroline Pasella, who came with her mother from Middletown, New Jersey to play bingo on Broadway. . “I bought pens, shirts, stickers,” she laughs. “I would buy the whole place if I could!”

The pop-up store is a physical arm of Broadway Creators Alliance – a confederation of 65 artisans, both theater professionals and superfans, who create Broadway-themed works. One of them is Andrea Koehler, a Seattle-based executive coach who also owns a company called Broadway coloring page. “We take musical theatre, pairing it with mindfulness and creativity and create coloring sheets, using Broadway lyrics etc.,” she says. Some of Koehler’s coloring sheets feature lyrics by Waitress and hamiltonas well as images inspired by them.

One of the coloring sheets offered by Coloring Broadway, featuring lyrics by Waitress

Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace


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Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace


One of the coloring sheets offered by Coloring Broadway, featuring lyrics by Waitress

Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace

The Alliance began when many crafters met at BroadwayCon, an annual fan festival like Comic-Con, but aimed at theatergoers. In the beginning, members simply exchanged information on setting up small businesses. But then they held a virtual fan event during COVID, which was very popular, and created an online store. Last fall, Michael Clarkston found the bar in the subway station empty, signed a two-week lease, and moved in.

“We opened on Halloween and didn’t expect much longer here,” Clarkston said. “It was supposed to be…a quick little vacation. And here we are. You know, end of March here, celebrating six months next month, in April.”

The shop offers all kinds of crafts: sheet music, with paintings of superimposed performance images, beautiful nighttime photographs of Broadway theaters, jewelry created from recycled elements of Broadway sets. “If you love and enjoy going to Broadway, to the theater, we’re the store for you,” Clarkston says. “We’re not commercialized. We’re not merchandise for the show. It’s all fan-made stuff. It’s stuff that fans want themselves.”

Select Pride Collection items on Makers Marketplace

Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace


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Michael T. Clarkston /Broadway Makers Marketplace

And, in addition to fan-created art, there are memorabilia: signed posters, Playbills and props. “I have a Patti LuPone ‘I Heart New York’ from Gypsy 2008 t-shirt here, signed,” Clarkston says, pointing to the store’s rarities. “I have Joanne Worley’s pearls from The sleepy chaperone. I do not have Billy Elliot dancing shoes here.”

Ultimately, the Broadway Makers Alliance hopes to make the pop-up shop permanent above ground, says Andrea Koehler of Coloring Broadway. “I’m looking forward to when we can move into a real outlet,” she laughs. “It’s really our vision, it’s: when you can be in a store that wasn’t a bar!”

But for now, customers can take the A train (or the B, C, D, and 1 trains) to Columbus Circle for the Broadway Makers Marketplace.