Archive for Saturday, September 3, 2011

Theatre Lawrence asks city for $100K

Group is trying to meet Sept. 30 fundraising deadline; goal is $6.2M

September 3, 2011


Lawrence city commissioners are being asked to provide $100,000 in public funding to help a Lawrence community theater group complete a multimillion-dollar campaign to build a new theater in west Lawrence.

Leaders with Theatre Lawrence — formerly known as the Lawrence Community Theatre — are asking that the city provide the group $20,000 per year for the next five years to build a 300-seat theater northeast of Sixth and Wakarusa in an area in front of Free State High School.

“The cultural and economic benefits will be immense and will create a new cultural destination within our community,” Mary Doveton, executive director of Theatre Lawrence wrote in a letter to commissioners.

City commissioners have been told the funding request is urgent because the group has to secure a handful of new pledges by the end of September in order to keep $1.5 million in “challenge” grants that the project has been awarded from out-of-state agencies.

In total, the theater group is seeking to raise $6.2 million to build the new theater. In July, the group confirmed it was about $1 million short of its goal. Attempts to reach Doveton on Friday afternoon for a fundraising update were not successful.

The idea of a city contribution has some support on the commission. City Commissioner Bob Schumm said he could see the value of placing public money in the project.

“It is a great project and it will speak well for Lawrence,” Schumm said. “It will help bring commerce from outside the city, and it is a genuine community activity. I like to support things that are genuinely Lawrence.”

Commissioners do frequently give to arts activities. In its 2012 budget, the city has set aside $79,000 for Van Go Mobile Arts, $90,000 for the Lawrence Arts Center, $25,000 for arts center scholarships, and $23,000 to the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission.

City commissioners will meet at 6:35 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.


phoggyjay 6 years, 7 months ago

Sounds like a great idea, hopefully the city will approve. The arts are vital to the city and the state of Kansas, even if the governor doesn't think so.

ku_tailg8 6 years, 7 months ago

I've never been to an "arts" production but this sounds reasonable to me.

somebodynew 6 years, 7 months ago

So are many of the services social agencies provide, but they had to cut their money this year. What make the 'arts' so good that we should just pony up whatever they ask for - and at the last minute to save their hide??? Where is all the donated money from the people who actually want this???

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

That's probably where they raised the $5 million they've got.

ku_tailg8 6 years, 7 months ago

Do you realize we are talking about $100k? I can't believe this is an issue. Social services, well, cost people money. This is going to generate money. $100k seems like such a small number that why wouldn't they do this?

Bassetlover 6 years, 7 months ago

Sadly, you have no doubt not had the opportunity to attend any of their incredible productions. Otherwise, you would understand the merit in this request. Their presence in our community adds immeasurable value to living here.

Dan Thalmann 6 years, 7 months ago

So if I went to a KU football game and really, really loved it along with a lot of other fans, you'd be totally supportive of the city ponying up $100,000 for football stadium improvements?

Ken Lassman 6 years, 7 months ago

I'm sure the city taxpayers had to pay more than that to enlarge the sanitary sewers to accommodate the stadium's toilet upgrade a few years back. They had to put a whole larger new line from the stadium all the way down 9th street to far east Lawrence for that one.

parco814 6 years, 7 months ago

I wouldn't oppose the city providing that money if it were needed, but that's improbable at best considering that private funding for college athletics is lavish. You can come up with a better hypothetical than that, can't you?

Alceste 6 years, 7 months ago

Why? To see "Annie" yet one more time? Or "Oklahoma" or "West Side Story" or "Cats"?

If the theatre were to put on cutting edge, challenging, and interesting productions; stuff to feed my head; stuff to compel me to think: Plays by Athol Fugard or Ronald Ribman or other such world respected playwrites, I'd sure be a supporter.

But "our" theatre? Give me a ain't "our"'s a closely knit group who control everything. No thanks. They can stay where the are.

Hilary Morton 6 years, 7 months ago


They do a lot more things than "Annie" and "Oklahoma". Perhaps with the new space, they can produce more variety, and have more opportunities. I think that's the point.

parco814 6 years, 7 months ago

Have you ever tried to communicate your concerns to these folks in a way that would compel them to take you seriously and get some results? I doubt it. Strange. Seems like a person who's hip to Fugard and Ribman would be exactly the sort of citizen the committee needs to hear. So long as you confine yourself to complaining here, you're guaranteed to have no say in the matter. Put yourself out there and you just might make a difference.

Alceste 6 years, 7 months ago

Yeah. I done let my thoughts be known to that "outfit", parco814....time and time again. It makes no never mind to the lovers of puff and piffle.


I wrote playwrites for a PURPOSE. Hall monitors are not desired. You must be attached to the group asking for money: My experiences with them have pretty much proven to me it's full of hall monitors and a pecking orders that are NOT to be crossed.

I'll include "Death of a Salesman" as yet another play I don't need to see again.

It's past time that a university community started putting on real theatre and not puff and piffle. It'll never happen in Lawrence, Kansas? Why is that? Answer: It's because Lawrence, Kansas is darn backwards. PERIOD.

LisaGreenwood 6 years, 7 months ago

In the decade I've been involved with the community theatre, I only recall "Annie" being produced once (last year) and never "Oklahoma," "Cats," or "Death of a Salesman." Perhaps you don't prefer the choice of plays, but the theatre offers much more in terms of community outreach, educational programs for children, classes in improv and dance open to anyone, and an acting company for seniors (who also do literacy programs in the elementary schools). The impact of the theater on our community goes far beyond just what you see on the playbill.

Alceste 6 years, 7 months ago

Simpletons abound. The point is that Lawrence is THE home of schock theatre....pablum for the masses: Escapism and mediocrity; NO risk taking; blah, blah, blah.

Lawrence don't need no 6 million dollar facility. The one on N.H. street is just fine.

Hilary Morton 6 years, 7 months ago

alceste, not a hall monitor. Just an observer of cowards who complain anonymously online, whose arguments are not based on fact. I see shows there every once in awhile, and they're so close to reaching their fundraising goal. It would benefit Lawrence greatly to have this theater moved to a new spot.

And you don't know how to spell. I caught you. Nope, I don't buy you did that on purpose. And here's another lesson for free: TheatER is the place. TheatRE is the art. If you already know the difference, then you're a peach. Maybe you can be ironic and misspell one of them in your retort to me. But please, don't feel compelled to do so. I won't read it.

Good day.

Alceste 6 years, 7 months ago

close is operative in horseshoes.....not much else.

Move the theatre to East Topeka (AKA: West Lawrence): Home of the wealthy and well heeled who understand silly songs. No tax dollars for silly songdong theatre.

The current group do NOT pay attention to constructive criticism of production choices. I can document same and produce both electronic communication and pieces of paper via U.S. Mail.

There is no "culture" in Lawrence, Kansas and anybody who wants to assert same must be very needy. We're in hillbilly land Kansas. No more. No less.

Alceste 6 years, 7 months ago

Incredible. You've never heard of Ronald Ribman or Athol Fugard. Nonetheless, it demonstrates why we don't need no $6.5 million monument to schlock, kitsch, and mediocrity in least not at the tax payers expense. If the blue hairs and blue bloods of West Lawrence want it.....find and good....let 'em pay for it....

kef104 6 years, 7 months ago

Will this location charge the additional 2% sales tax/developer rebate as well? If so, do not bother to build it. While I would be thrilled to have a nice theater so close, I cannot support the additional tax money going back to an already wealthy developer. It seems like a double dip to ask for extra tax payer support to build it as well. FYI, I love the arts, but I also know there are limits to what taxpayers can give.

ku_tailg8 6 years, 7 months ago

I don't like the arts and I don't see the your point. If you can't afford an extra dollar ( if that) over a year then maybe you should worry about cutting cost in your own budget. Hell, cable and gas up their prices all the time. Do you realize what $100k is to a small city like Lawrence? Not much. This place will generate money. Whats wrong with that?

John Hamm 6 years, 7 months ago

Given where it is - not one red cent from me. If indeed "the West is the best" and they have the money let them fund it themselves.

jafs 6 years, 7 months ago

They've raised $5 million already.

Do people not read any more?

Scott Morgan 6 years, 7 months ago

Yes which begs why the wish the small amount of 20K per year???

ku_tailg8 6 years, 7 months ago

Amen! Seems like $100k is a drop in the bucket to build something that is a money maker.

newmedia 6 years, 7 months ago

Just noticed the Topeka Arts District received $100K in private donations yesterday. Yes it can be done.

William McCauley 6 years, 7 months ago

That's right! And why are they hell bent on 1 moving to the west side 2 building a new building when there are current unused buildings that would make nice performance arts buildings..... oh that's right we ALREADY have a public funded performance arts building........ it's called the Lawrence Art's Center and it's located in that precious little downtown district the city & business owners are always bitching about no one comes there to spend money. Won't even get started on the cash spent for the parking across the street and the amount of funding each year to the arts center, a place for people to produce plays and for people to go see them and it's state of the art. Or what about good old Doug's temple building for a play house.

(quote)“The cultural and economic benefits will be immense and will create a new cultural destination within our community,” Mary Doveton, executive director of Theatre Lawrence wrote in a letter to commissioners. (quote)

Yea like they do already, heard your so busy over there on NH st. that your turning people away at the doors cuz the space is so small..... maybe you need to pass the hat first before sending those people back for out of town who'll miss the show cuz your building is too small and none of the other 5 or 6 professional venues in town are suited for your plays, you need to spend 6+ mill and you need a city hand out as well.

PLEASE! Hey Mary, 27 years @ this little small group, is it you need more money or you need this project to happen to justify 27 years spent there? Who's plan is this anyway? If you care so much about the arts and the actors, maybe you should try thinking outside the box and try making agreements with the professional venues already in place in town to hold your productions at or buy something cheaper and keep your cost down..... hey maybe the city could just add it on top of the new parking or library.

IBike100 6 years, 7 months ago

I have attended performances with my girlfriend, and they are always professionally produced. Many people(especially the residents of Brandon Woods), enjoy these performances. I laud Mary Doveton for the endless hours she devotes to the Community Theatre. Her dedication and sincerity is to be applauded.

lunacydetector 6 years, 7 months ago

cost benefit analysis from a professor is needed.....right, about, now.

same goes for that $18 million subsidy for the library.

Kookamooka 6 years, 7 months ago

I hope they fund this! Imagine the traffic this will bring our way from KC and Topeka? Good for our local economy by providing new jobs. If they follow the business model of the New Theatre Restaurant, with season tix and such, they should make a profit.

parco814 6 years, 7 months ago

Really? Every building in the last 10 years is ugly? Even for these boards, that's a ridiculous generalization.

You want European-style architecture, be ready to pay European-style taxes. Like that's gonna happen here, even in the so-called "People's Republic of Douglas County."

Speaking of that, a genuine people's republic, which China certainly isn't, is exactly what we and the United States should be. I think that's what John Locke had in mind, once upon a time.

Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

"The idea of a city contribution has some support on the commission. City Commissioner Bob Schumm said he could see the value of placing public money in the project. "

Instead of giving money, why not just pay for their fire sprinklers Bob?

"Attempts to reach Doveton on Friday afternoon for a fundraising update were not successful. "

If you do reach Mary Doveton, ask her to wrap some detail about those "out of state agencies."

"In its 2012 budget, the city has set aside $79,000 for Van Go Mobile Arts, $90,000 for the Lawrence Arts Center, $25,000 for arts center scholarships, and $23,000 to the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission."

If you want to fund the community theater, cut an equal amount from the other programs. Or does the Commission postponing more fire equipment or more police officers in order to fund this?

Alceste 6 years, 7 months ago

Don't forget, Sigmund, Mr. Schumm has one sweethear of a deal with respect to the property tax obligation he has:

0800 Blk #02 Vermont Lawrence $20 Robert J Schumm

$20. Bucks. That's what this City Commish pays for a nice little plot of land. TWENTY BUCKS.

ku_tailg8 6 years, 7 months ago

$100k? Are you kidding me? What is a dollar or two/ per year to the average person to pay for this? Give them the money. I can't believe this is a question. Its not $10 million or $1 million but $100k. If it helps the community then the money is well spent. I'm not a huge arts lover but this sounds ridiculous. Give them the money.

Scott Morgan 6 years, 7 months ago

a buck here, a dollar there, after a while it adds up. Again, why does this organization wish to be funded by only 20 k a year?

Something doesn't smell good about this story. Sounds as though they are spending promises.

parco814 6 years, 7 months ago

Two ideas that could raise the needed funds in a jiffy and have some left over to throw a hell of a party:

1) Set up a dunk tank or pie throwing booth with Brownback and Kobach as the guests of honor. The per-throw fees would be low but we'd still rake in the bucks since there'd be so many enthusiastic customers.

2) Each time an LJW message board rightwinger whines and or lies about KU, taxes, "illegal aliens," President Obama, or Leonard Pitts, fine the offender a nickel, or even a penny. On just about any given day of the week, we're talking vast sums.

The show must go on!

blindrabbit 6 years, 7 months ago

Has the theater group considered selling $100 or $1,000 name bricks or wall plaques or some other means of raising small dollar contributions from the community. I'm sure many would like to contribute but not at the big dollar amount. The advantage here is that more individuals could/would feel like they have contributed and the City would not need cough-up which will no-doubt cause much heartache for complaining members of the community. It worked for the Sesqui. Park.

Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

ku_tailg8 (anonymous) says… "$100k? Are you kidding me? What is a dollar or two/ per year to the average person to pay for this?"

$79,000 for Van Go Mobile Arts, $90,000 for the Lawrence Arts Center, $25,000 for arts center scholarships, $23,000 to the Lawrence Cultural Arts Commission, $20,000 to Lawrence Community Theater comes to $237,000 per year.

On the other hand, recently there was $300,000 reduction in what the city spends each year to replace aging fire equipment despite the infrastructure sales tax voters approved in 2008 and the city agreed to spend about $500,000 of sales tax money each year to purchase new fire equipment.

Why doesn't the Commission, and Mr. Schumm, live up to their previous promises to all of Lawrence before they give money to a handful of West Side thespians first? Is that really asking so much?

If Commissioner Schumm wants to fund this with taxpayer dollars perhaps he and downtown cronies (Bob Schumm@Buffalo Bob's, George Paley@Tellers, Doug Compton@Lawrence Masonic Temple, Peter Zacharias@Goldmakers, Anne Yetman@The Bayleaf, 725 Mass, David Millstein@The Casbah, Mark Swanson@Hobbs, 700 Mass, James & Cara Connelly@Silverworks and More) could pay back the the taxpayer dollars we gave them for their new fire sprinklers for their private businesses first.

Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

"There's $250,000 available for the program in 2007. Of the 35 applications received, the city selected eight businesses to receive the incentive, including Silverworks and More and Buffalo Bob's Smokehouse. Others include Teller's restaurant, Lawrence Masonic Temple, Goldmakers, The Bayleaf, The Casbah and Hobbs."

Although Bob Schumm, George Paley, Doug Compton, Anne Yetman, David Millstein, Mark Swanson, and James & Cara Connelly, aren't as concerned as the rest of Lawrence who did not get $250,000 worth of taxpayer upgrades for their fire protection, how about the rest of Lawrence? Perhaps Commissioner Schumm and his downtown cronies can promise to pay back 10% per year of their share of the $250,000 taxpayer dollars directly to the Community Theater and get a nice little income tax deduction for their efforts?

Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

oneeye_wilbur (anonymous) replies… "About those sprinklers downtown. How's about those who got the sprinklers make the paperwork publicly available and put on display at the Public Library. It would make for interesting reading and even might show how some who got the sprinkler's had what shall we say "incomplete" paperwork as compared to other recipients."

Virtually no one uses public libraries for research anymore. Why take hours and waste gas when you can do it better, faster, and with a smaller carbon foot print online? How about the City-O-Larryville make this and all other documents, which they are required by law to make publicly available, on their website with a decent method of searching them? This would provide the tearfully promises of "transparency" and "process improvements" that never seemed to materialize after the Dipheria debacle. Where the mayor "technically" broke the law and failed to disclose her interest in the project and the rest of the Commission simply failed.

Clovis Sangrail 6 years, 7 months ago

I ordinarily support public funding for the arts to some degree, but this is such a blatant attempt on the part of the theater group to pander to west Lawrence money that I cannot in good conscience support it.

Note that since they are removing the theater from the community, they no longer call themselves a community theater, but "Theatre Lawrence." Better they should have named themselves "Theatre West Lawrence." (Note the affected British spelling.) It will become just the place for the chichi to be seen.

I say no appropriation in this case. Let them sell bricks or seat plaques so the elites can see their names in public and feel good about themselves.

As for me, when I want to see live theater, I'll go to the university. No developer tax there, and you'll see productions the community theater would never consider.

dogsandcats 6 years, 7 months ago

And the productions at the University will be 100x more professional and the actors will actually know how to act.

Sigmund 6 years, 7 months ago

Too bad Dame Mary Doveton's dreams of the Great White Way can't stand on their own two feet but needs handouts from taxpayers just like her Commission Cronies and downtown businesses. I surely would love to see her production of Music Man set in 2011 Lawrence Kansas. But the Broadway I am more concerned with is the Apartment complex that burned to the ground, killing three and injuring 17 others in 2005.

Then in 2007 Bob Schumm and his downtown cronies get $250,000 in taxpayer funds to protect their property and in 2008 sales taxes increases were approved by the voters and the city agreed to spend about $500,000 of sales tax money each year to purchase new fire equipment, but not this year.

Bob Schumm, whose property already has fire sprinkler upgrades by reaching his fist into the Lawrence budget and piling it high to the sky just like his fries, cut all of Lawrence's budget for fire protection by $300,000, apparently so the city would have plenty of money to fund Lawrence Art's budget to the tune of $237,000 per year.

Perhaps Dame Doveton can produce a original script starring Mr Schumm as Nero so he can fiddle as Lawrence burns.

dogsandcats 6 years, 7 months ago

The low quality schlock that "Theatre Lawrence" puts out does not merit this new fancy building nor $100k from the city.

Godot 6 years, 7 months ago

Out of state agencies have proferred $1.5 million as long as Theatre Lawrence can get the rest of the dough from private funds; those funds are not forthcoming, so Theater Lawrence NEEDS $20,000 per year from Lawrence taxpayers, i.e. property owners, to fund their new building.

It is only a few dollars per year for those property owners. Why should they complain? Just like the few dollars per year they have to pay for the new community center aka library, and the sewer plant and the new curb-side recycling......... it is only a few more dollars.

If private dollars are not there, then cut back the scope of the project.

Jonathan Fox 6 years, 7 months ago

The theater may be only a few more dollars added to the many dollars not going to services many people use (including the library), but that doesn't mean I have to want to spend it.

And speaking of the library, a sales tax increase costs tax payers a lot more than a few dollars, especially since only 60% or so (I can't remember exactly, I think less) people were willing to pay that.

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