Friday, January 19, 2007

Scottish Rite turns its back on performing arts

Ironic in its timing (relative to the Scottish Rite's new mission of NASCAR sponsorship) and its location (Indianapolis, home of the Indy 500), the Scottish Rite has announced it is getting out of the business of producing theater seasons for the public, the Indianapolis Star wrote today.

After staging 1776, Sweeney Todd and Miracle on 34th Street, Scottish Rite will not extend its 2006-07 season. There had been talk of opening The Philadelphia Story in May.

The Scottish Rite's productions at the Scottish Rite Performing Arts Center began in 2005 with Annie Get Your Gun to help save the theater building. Some shows made money, some didn't.

"Scottish Rite is no longer going to produce a full season of shows," said Jeffrey K. Saunders, the organization's chief executive officer.

The main reason for the change, Saunders said, "is to turn back to the fraternal mission of Scottish Rite."

Like auto racing?

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  1. "the organization's chief executive officer. Saunders said the Scottish Rite Performing Arts Center will present theater pieces staged by others."

    The way I read it - they don't mind being a venue - they just don't want to put the productions together (in other words, picking the RIGHT plays, getting the rights, auditioning, directing, designing, rehearsing, building, insurance, equity union, non-equity union, staging, aspirin etc...)

    Having a great venue is one thing... producing something is a whole different animal - which you need the support of everyone 90 to 100% - otherwise 'forgetaboutit'.

    In my opinion, if they still make the facility available to stage plays and put on productions for the community, then it's not a total loss.

  2. The SR is too busy turning Masonry into a social club to care about the arts.

    The ruff crowd of nascar is way too appealing to them. I would not be surprised if they just sell the temples and move to the enfields at nascar races.......

  3. It's not entirely clear from the original article whether the Scottish Rite will continue to operate the theater, or even if they are the owners of the building. The manager's statement about others who will continue to stage productions doesn't say that SR will be involved at all.

    It is possible to interpret the article as saying they stepped in in 2005 and began producing plays as a fundraiser for the preservation of a historical building, which was then re-named for the SR.

    Perhaps a local resident or a SR brother will shed more light on the issue.

    — W.S.

  4. As a member of the Indianapolis valley, it is a number of changes that will be coming.

    First, I believe the most profitable play that was produced was a sum that could easily have been gotten by passing the hat around at a well attended stated meeting.

    The summer play of 2006 was a HUGE loss to the valley and was done in partnership with another local group who shared the loss, but it was still a huge loss for the organization.

    The building (you can virtually visit here: is beautiful, but I don't see why the public would sit in the chairs for any amount of time to view a play - it was built just before the depression so a can of sardenes has more leg and shoulder room.

    The building is owned by the Valley.

    I have heard rumors that we will be going back to in house productions. Something done using members of the Valley and various other volunteers to put on a production. That's just a rumor at the moment.

    Basically, the Rite bit off more than it could chew by being the production company instead of just the venue.

    Oh, well.


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