The show will go on
at the Memorial Opera House this year as the Porter County Council passed a
motion Thursday, 4-3 in favor of using $20,000 of county economic
development funds to lift the venue out of its current slump.
A dozen supporters
of local theater attended the meeting to show support as the Council heard
why the historical venue is running a deficit of $10,862.
Business Director Michelle Smith said a former employee put together the
current schedule of shows and events which didn’t include the larger
productions that would have brought in the needed surges of revenue.
“We really needed
something at the beginning of the year and didn’t have it,” Smith said.
and concerts for next year have been planned, which should keep the budget
out of the red, Smith said. The Opera House has additionally begun a new
marketing campaign and a non-profit foundation has been established to
collect donations that will be used for promotions.
“It’s been a
learning process these last two years. I think we’ll have it next year.
Fingers crossed,” Smith said.
shortage should turn around as the next three shows are anticipated to sell
many tickets, Smith said. The South Shore Orchestra will be playing there
for a few days and a full schedule of concerts has been added.
Blaney last month
said a partnership with the City of Valparaiso is possible.
The Opera House
does not get its money from the County’s general fund but from its own
Council’s Budget and Financial specialist Vicki Urbanik said $300,000 has
been brought in this year for the Opera House, but there is significant
variance between different months. For instance, $49,000 was collected in
June while $19,500 was the August total.
Council member Jim
Biggs, R-1st, said the Opera House has shown improvement but wanted to know
if the $20,000 was something that could be paid back to the County. Smith
said she doubted it. “There are so many factors,” she said.
Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, also wished the Opera House well in reaching its goals.
He and Biggs however voted against the request for CEDIT as did Council
member Jim Polarek, R-4th.
Voting in favor
were Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, Vice-President Karen
Conover, R-3rd, and members Sylvia Graham, D-at large, and Robert Poparad,