Sunday, March 25, 2001

The arts

'Retrenching' RCA skips D.C. trip

        Greater Cincinnati arts had another opportunity lost last week.

        Tuesday was National Arts Advocacy Day. While Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts' exec Mary McCullough-Hudson went to Washington, D.C., to pay a legislative visit, nobody took action on the home front, in council and commissioners' offices (on both sides of the river), where we really need it.

        Putting a timely spotlight and a headline or two on arts advocacy would have been an obvious task for the longtime would-be Regional Cultural Alliance.

        But the beleaguered RCA is retrenching, according to Ed Stern, whose toughest job probably isn't running Playhouse in the Park but being the volunteer media contact for the RCA.

        “We're re-assessing everything,” Mr. Stern says about the results of a board retreat in early March. The alliance is planning to meet again by mid-April, with decisions expected to be reached then.

        Arts advocacy can begin at home, and on April 9, the Ohio Citizens for the Arts is coming to town for a 4 p.m. regional meeting at the Contemporary Arts Center.

        The idea is for state legislators and arts supporters to meet one another and learn more about state arts activities.

        William Blair, legislative counsel to Ohio Citizens for the Arts, will start things off with a presentation on arts funding, then there will be an introduction to the Ohio Arts Council by its executive director Wayne Lawson.

        While this is all directed toward arts advocacy at the state level, there should be some pointers for anybody interested in getting things rolling at a local level.

        Too, it will be a fine way for arts advocates to meet each other, even as they take attendance to see which state reps show up to schmooze.

        Admission is $10 and includes a reception following the official presentation.

        Reservations (paid in advance) are required and Ohio Citizens for the Arts requests a check by April 2. Mail to: Ohio Citizens for the Arts, 77 S. High St., Second Floor, Columbus OH 43215-6108.

        “Arts Advocacy” deserves to be the rallying cry of everyone who enjoys and takes advantage of the arts in the region. We have great arts, large and small, and those arts need our active, vocal, consistent — and organized — support.

        Attend the April 9 session. And make sure you take the opportunity to pull the savvy and passionate Mr. Blair aside and invite him back to town — soon — for a tutorial in grass roots advocacy, from the ground up.

        Call Ohio Citizens for the Arts at (614) 221-4064 or e-mail them at

        Small example: Look no further than the tiny village of Crooksville, Ohio, for a local government that gets it. Mayor Douglas Cannon picked up a Partnership in the Arts award at the recent Governor's Award for the Arts, where a luncheon brings together advocates and state legislators.

        Crooksville, he noted, “has to struggle just to meet many of our basic needs” but the arts have made a huge difference to Crooksville's citizens, with their “ability to motivate, comfort, inspire, sustain.

        “We've found that arts provide a catalyst to our aspirations, our pride, our sense of fun — and in any consideration, those are basic needs.”

        Advocacy alert: State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Mount Lookout) didn't hear Mayor Cannon. Mr. Brinkman ducked out early, claiming a pressing engagement.

        Theater fund-raiser: The Cincinnati premiere of The Laramie Project by the Playhouse M.F.A. acting company has set aside its May 26 performance as a fund-raiser for the League of Cincinnati Theatres.

        The league was founded in 1999 to bring together Cincinnati's growing professional theater community.

        Activities to date include workshops and the annual unified auditions. As theater leagues throughout the United States have developed, they've established sophisticated Web sites and come up with all kinds of creative marketing.

        The League of Chicago Theatres sells “Play Money” certificates and hosts an annual dead-of-winter theater showcase weekend.

        Laramie Project is based on the headline-making death of Matthew Shepard, 21, who was kidnapped, robbed and beaten because he was gay. It will be directed by league president D. Lynn Meyers of Ensemble Theatre.

        A coffee and dessert reception will be followed by the 9 p.m. performance in the Playhouse's Marx rehearsal hall.

        Tickets are $30 and include a donation of $5 to the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Tickets go on sale April 2. Call the Playhouse box office at (513) 421-3888 for reservations and information.

        Double jeopardy: It wasn't enough that both Stage First and the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music's drama department both had settled on a 2001-02 production of Shakespeare's The Tempest.


        No, they'd both penciled in Six Characters in Search of an Author, too. Stage First artistic director Nicholas Korn is relinquishing the field (make that stage) to CCM and will return to ancient Greece to fill the early spring slot with Euripides' Medea.

        CCM alumni: CCM musical theater grads Keith Mahoney and Sinclair Mitchell are doing some fancy dancing in the current tour of Best Little Whorehouse in Texas headlined by Ann-Margret. They're part of the Aggie football team partaking of the entertainment at the Chicken Ranch.

        Longtime CCM fans also will recognize the name of music director Anne Shuttlesworth.

        Hall of famer: Longtime Oak Hills High School drama teacher and Drama Workshop stalwart Virginia Chizer was to be inducted into the Educational Theatre Association's Teachers' Hall of Fame Saturday night, capping the ETA's state conference at Indian Hill High School.

        Mrs. Chizer retired from Oak Hills in 1993 after 24 years and “about 50 shows.” She didn't exactly retire from teaching and led three workshops at the conference.

        Mickey puts on a show: The Gaslight Theatre in Georgetown is spiffed up and ready for big business, thanks to the Brown County Chamber of Commerce, and Mickey Rooney is on his way.

        A child star in the '30s, Judy Garland's co-star in a string of Busby Berkeley musicals and a stage star in Sugar Babies, Mickey Rooney and wife Jan Chamberlin Rooney will take the stage in The One Man One Wife Show at 7:30 p.m. April 3. Tickets $20, call (937) 378-4784.

        The Brown County Chamber invested about $500,000 renovating the Gaslight, including air-conditioning, to make it available for year-round use. (The theater was about a block away from the fire that destroyed a chunk of the town's historic section.)

        Chuck Wente (founder of Downtown Theatre Classics and dreaming of an Underground Railroad outdoor drama) is consulting artistic director.

        Mr. Wente and his artistic board, which includes local stage vets Bob Allen, Greg Procaccino and Elaine Wilson, are contemplating a calendar that could include a holiday show, a weekday children's series, maybe plays related to American history and absolutely a summer 2002 season.

        O'Neill tragedy: Actor's Repertory Theatre continues its season with Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical masterpiece Long Day's Journey Into Night, opening Thursday for a two-weekend run at the Middletown theater. Mr. O'Neill focuses on the lives of his tragic Tyrones on one day in summer 1912. Mark Metzger directs.

        Box office: (513) 727-9361.

        The theater's new children's series, A.R.T. for Kids with Theatre IV, begins April 14 with Sweet Chariot.

        Contact Jackie Demaline at 768-8530; fax: 768-8330; e-mail Cincinnati.Com keyword: Demaline.


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