Chesterton Tribune



Curtain stays up: Income tax money for Opera House approved on 4-3 vote

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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.

Opera House 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.

The “blockbusters” 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.

The funding 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 operating revenues.

The County 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.

Council member 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, D-at large.


Posted 9/26/2014




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