Sedona's Performing Arts avoid homelessness?
by Rod Abbott
Kenneth Haigh in Theatre Arts in 1958 wrote
"You need three things in the theatre the play,
the actors, and the audience, and each must give something."
Haigh did not mention that one also needs a theatre.
The fine theatre performing arts groups
in Sedona soon will find themselves without a local venue and
thus Sedonans who want theatre will travel to Phoenix, Prescott,
and Flagstaff for their theatre fix. Howard Taubman in the New
York Times, August 4, 1964 poignantly penned "it is the
destiny of the theatre nearly everywhere and in every period
to struggle even when it is flourishing."
The Red Rock Reviews publisher, Robert
Scot, a true lover of theatre himself, has been directing Sedonas
attention to the state of affairs of the performing arts locally
for some time through several stimulating articles appearing
in this magazine over the past several months.
Just what is the state of affairs in regard
to the performing arts in Sedona?
There are a number of fine groups, Oak Creek
Theatre Company, Grannies on the Rocks, The Community Theatre,
Actors Repertory Theatre of Sedona, Childrens Classic
Caravan, Omni Dance, Chamber Music Sedona, Sedona Theatre Guild,
and Shakespeare Sedona. All of these could benefit from a state
of the art theatre complex in Sedona.
Of course, this does not even consider the
audience who also would be benefactors from such a venue. Thornton
Wilder in an interview, Writers at Work: First Series, 1958
said "We live in what is, but we find a thousand ways not
to face it. Great theatre strengthens our faculty to face it."
The problem facing theatre in the city is
really two fold.
The first is that the Sedona Arts Center
is faced with closing its theatre at the end of June this year.
The theatre needs $40,000 for a new sprinkler system to bring
it up to code. Since the Center will be moving in the next two-to-three
years, and is facing an urgent need for added classroom space
for the Nassan Gobran School of the Arts (along with the fact
that it cannot continue to support financially continued losses
in the theatre - or in other projects for that matter), the
Board of Directors has in the past few months voted not to construct
a theatre at a new site.
The board did not say that it resigned from
supporting theatre, and will continue to give classes in the
many aspects of performing arts. Thus the first problem is the
immediate (within five months) loss of home for the theatre
The second problem facing performing arts
is the lack of an ideal state-of-the-art complex for Sedona
and its performing arts groups. Awareness of both these problems
has been provoked by the vigilant Red Rock Review and by the
theatre groups themselves, in particular the Oak Creek Theatre
Company and The Sedona Theatre Guild.
Behind the scenes, Chairperson Paul Chevalier
and his commission, the Arts and Culture Commission, have been
aware of the problem, and have been active in interviewing these
groups and in planning for a study that has the potential for
support and help from the City Council. Chevalier has appointed
a committee to address the performing arts needs and to study
the issues that may make a feasibility study possible.
In the meantime, creative Mary Guaraldi,
OCTCs founder and leader, has presented the Board of Directors
of the Arts Center a temporary solution for the homeless groups
during the interim in which the Center remains at its present
location. The president of the Arts Center has formed a task
force to study the proposal and to carefully review the impact
it might have on a recent, generous, much-needed grant (for
refurbishing the theatre for needed temporary classroom space,
among other things). It will not be an easy decision for the
task-force of the Board and President Dennis Ott.
The two issues facing the Performing Arts
groups in Sedona are: 1) Homelessness after June 2001 (EXCEPT
for Chamber Music Sedona), and 2) A long term solution for a
state of the art theatre complex for a permanent home for the
performing arts groups, which would include all of them.
Should problem 1 go without resolution,
there may not be the fire and zeal in the groups to make solving
problem 2 necessary. At best, the state of affairs is complex
but worth the effort of those trying to solve the puzzle.