ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Rockford Public Library has named the Moon Dog Theatre troupe its “Artist in Residence” at the Nordloff Center.

The group says they hope to unite artists throughout the Rockford community.

Rockford native Nicholas Barelli is the founder of the avant-garde troupe, which consists of seven performers.

Aside from putting on their own productions, they say they will be offering a space for other artists and those looking for a chance to explore the world of theater.

“There’s so much talent here, and it’s just a really great opportunity for us to improve our skills and also meet new people and kind of do that for them as well. But we also want to do acting workshops for adults who maybe gave it up in the past and want to do it again, We’re just finding unique little things to do for people that maybe they haven’t experienced before,” Barelli said.

Bridget Finn, marketing director for the Rockford Public Library, said Moon Dog Theatre has boosted attendance after a few prior performances, and making them the “artist in residence” made sense.

“Once we realized how talented [Barelli] was and how willing he was and how community-minded he was, we brought it to our board, and the board voted unanimously to offer him the position,” Finn said.

Barelli said his goal for Moon Dog Theatre is to foster an environment in his hometown that allows performers to excel.

“[We’re] building something that grows into a space that people feel like they can hone their craft here in Rockford,” he said. “They don’t have to go to New York or Chicago or L.A. or Atlanta, and they can stay here, get better at something that they love, and then decide if it’s something that they want to stay here and do.”

Moon Dog Theatre will host an acting event on October 27th, and hope to begin performances this winter.