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July 11, 2019

Meet 8-Count Productions

With a passion for the arts and an eye for business, our friend and member Hope Donnelly founded 8-Count Productions in 2011. Donnelly quickly realized that to fully achieve her dreams of sharing the art she was creating and supporting other creatives in her local community, she would need a brick and mortar.

“I joke that the Rialto Theatre found me,” Donnelly said.

It was a little happenstance, a little fate and a lot of hard work, but she found this beautiful theatre that had been neglected for many years and saw its potential.

“I just knew it could really be something special. It had good bones. You walked in and you felt great energy,” Donnelly added.

She purchased the Rialto Theatre in 2013 and began the transformation into what you see today. Donnelly knew when she found the Rialto, she had found a gem, and it was important to her to respect the nature of the building, to keep the charm and character and to preserve something that has such a great history in Tampa.

Donnelly’s vision for the Rialto Theatre extended beyond creating an immaculately restored historic building.

“Getting in to events, I realized how wasteful they can be, and the impact on the environment was very important to me.”

This perspective really sets the Rialto Theatre apart from other event venues in the Tampa Bay area. In addition to a clean renovation process, Donnelly is always looking for ways to reduce the impact her business and venue have on the environment. From offering composting services at the theatre and providing contacts for donating flowers and food after an event, to the recent conversion to a completely solar-powered facility, the impact she leaves is top-of-mind.

“I think that in owning any business, you have a responsibility to your community,” Donnelly said. “I have the ability to educate clients, to spread awareness through our social media and to engage young artists coming up, so I have to be very aware of my choices as a person, as a business owner, and then also as a venue and to understand the impact they have.”

Through 8-Count Productions and the Rialto Theatre, Donnelly is able to serve her community in other meaningful ways. In addition to the fabulous space, a special feature of hosting an event at the Rialto is that there is no set list of vendors you have to use. You are free to bring in your preferred vendors based on your budget and needs. This is especially beneficial to the many non-profit organizations that host fundraising events at the Rialto. It means they can accept catering and other donations from their partners, allowing them to keep overhead costs at a minimum, pull off a fabulous event and maximize their fundraising efforts.

There are many unique features to the Rialto Theatre, but the key to Donnelly’s success will always be her desire to see local artists thrive in their local community. Be sure to stop by and view the works of local artists on display in the gallery space or to express your creativity at one of the weekly dance cyphers. And if you’re looking for the perfect event venue in the Tampa Bay area, look no further than the Rialto Theatre.


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