Thursday, July 13, 2006

Elgin Academy wants $700K for theater

Under the plan, Elgin would foot a portion of the cost for the 43,115-square-foot building slated for the corner of Kimball and Dundee avenues.

In return, Elgin would get the mid-size theater many residents have been pressuring city leaders to build. (Elgin Daily Herald 7/13/06)

Just wondering, who's been pressuring the city to build a theater? It's sad if we're going to build a theater now. You know, after we've torn down the Crocker? My opinion? No new theater without new theater groups.

Use what we have. If any theaters are needed, they should be converted from old buildings. Think black box.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to be more informed. The Elgin Theatre Company, Janus Theatre Company, Independent Players and the Green Room Theatre Company, have expressed great interest in having more usable theater spaces in downtown Elgin.

As it stands now, the only spaces available are found spaces or an old high school auditorium. Hemmmens is too large and the college is too expensive and removed from the downtown.

Right now most groups would settle for a Black Box Theatre in one of the old buildings, unfortunately, Elgin is not the most progressive city when it comes to new ideas, even if they've been around since the 60's. They're still hashing out the Loft space in the Professional Building, which may or may not happen.

Regardless, there is a real need for performing space in Elgin. There are artists of all kinds looking for available space. For all the money that is thrown at building condos, so little is set aside or even considered for the arts groups that can give this "city to watch" some sense of style and hipness, that is, unless we're talking about the Symphony, and they pretty much get what they want, which is funny when 25% of their audience hails from Elgin and the rest is from out of town.

The point here is that even if the Crocker was still around, it would be too large for theatrical purposes. What Elgin Academy proposes is a start, but it won't satisfy the demnad of the groups that need space. You would still need another space for that. Keep in mind that all these groups do close to 9-12 productions a year over the course of 27-42 weeks. Doesn't leave much downtime.

Finally, you need to get out and see some theater and ask the right questions before you start making general, ignorant comments.

4:23 PM  
Blogger The Elginite said...

Thanks for the comments. You're right I do need to get out and see more Elgin theater.

But since most of my comments are general and ignorant (I'm not a specialist/expert), I can't really stop making them or else I would have to take this blog down :)

Right now I don't see what's wrong with found spaces or an old high school auditorium. I've lived in a city where such spaces hosted marvelous productions. I suppose I may revise that opinion if I see some Elgin theater.

With regard to the proposed Elgin Academy deal, I'm skeptical that Elgin gets a good bargain. My suspicion is that whether the city kicks in money or not, the Academy will rent out its space to Elgin theater groups. That is, of course, an ignorant assumption. But what else is a blogger to do?

Anyway, thanks for the comment. It's always nice to hear the wall talk back.

10:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing back. Sometimes comments are sent out into the abyss never to return.

You're right about wonderful theatre in found sapces, but there comes a time when stepping up to a "real theatre" matters. After ahwile, a theatre can't grow anymore with found spaces. And with all the talk of downtown revitalization, there needs to be serious consideration for new theatre space.

Believe me, when it comes time for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra to expand, the city will be more than willing to pony-up millions of dollars.

In terms of Elgin Academy, you're right again: They would be renting to Elgin groups regardless of the city giving them some change.

At the end of the day, it's a start, but not enough to truly benefit everyone.

Thanks for the talkback.

6:00 PM  

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