Monday, August 27, 2007

Park District Goings On

Whilst the DE and the Southern have focused on the activities of the City Council in the past couple of weeks, the Carbondale Times has run a couple of detailed front page stories on the Park District, Hickory Lodge and the Park District budget. Unfortunately, for those of you who only read the new online, the Times is print only, but you can find it all around town.

One thing that really stuck out in the article that ran in the August 15th issue was the proposal by the Stage Company to build a theater on the Park District acreage catty-corner to the old high school football field. Two proposals were offered. Under one, the Stage Company would take out a mortgage, buy the property outright, make payments on the loan and obtain private funding for the building. Under option two, the Park District would front the money for the building, which the Stage Company would then occupy as a rent paying main tenant.

I don't see either one of these working out. From what I've heard, and feel free to correct me if you have more info, the Stage Company has been looking for funding for a new building ever since they lost their $1 a year lease on the old bank building when it was condemned and no angels have stepped up.

Option two also looks unlikely, given the amount of debt the Park District is carrying from the building of the golf course. Refinancing the loan has helped the Park District with their budget but not to the point where they have the kind of cash flow coming in to fund a major building project like a theater.

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Given the story in yesterday's SI, I'd say that this is basically just talk. They're not even going to fix their leakage problems at the life center, so I don't see how this is going to happen.

One thing to note is that I've started seeing Stage Company commericals on tv (asking for support). That money had to come from somewhere.
As president of the Stage Company, I welcome this opportunity to talk about the progress of our capital campaign, which was launched this past April. I'm happy to report what we've always suspected: we have MANY angels in Southern Illinois!

We know art costs, but it also pays in the form of tourist dollars, local money spent locally, increased property values, the development of Carbondale as a retirement destination, and innumerable educational and recreational opportunities for children and adults.

The Stage Company made several proposals this year to the Carbondale Park District and its Hickory Lodge task force, to join them in developing venues for the performing and visual arts in Carbondale. While waiting for the task force's recommendation, we remain open to other options as well, because Southern Illinois needs its community theater.

The Stage Company capital campaign continues as we begin our 26th year of producing shows people want to see. The first show of the season will be the comic farce "Don't Dress for Dinner," directed by the incomparable Christian H. Moe, November 16-18, at the new CCHS auditorium.

Also, be sure to circle December 1 & 2 on your calendar for an exquisite Holiday Home Tour, benefitting the Stage Company.

Check out our website at, or email me at for more information. See you at the show!

Cathy Field
How is the capital campaign coming? Could you give some specifics? Last I heard, you weren't having much success in finding angels
I certainly hope Catherine's optimism is truly warranted, as I'd love to see the Stage Company thrive.

Its too bad the city didn't step in much earlier to save the original venue and part of our historic heritage before it was condemed. I suppose we'll have to live with a football stadium instead. ;)
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