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Huron Playhouse vows to continue without BGSU

Heather Chapin-Fowler • Aug 22, 2010 at 12:28 AM

The Huron Playhouse's budget will be on its own from now on.

Bowling Green State University "is absolutely out of it," according to Huron Mayor Marilyn Shearer.

The Friends of the Playhouse, a committee formed to explore ways to keep the 325 Ohio St. theater afloat, decided earlier this month to apply to the state as a nonprofit organization.

"We are not ready to abandon the Playhouse," Shearer said. "It is an important component to our community."

With BGSU pulling out as a financial supporter, the Playhouse's "drastically cut" budget will be about $120,000 short as the 2011 season gets underway, Shearer said.

As a non-profit organization, the Playhouse will be able to solicit donations to help fill the budget gap. Ticket sales from its summer performances will make up the rest of its budget, Shearer said.

John Bacon, the chairman of the Friends of the Playhouse committee, is working on the non-profit status, according to Jann Graham Glann, the director of the Playhouse.

"We're hoping to be back, but it will take major fundraising efforts and support in many ways," Graham Glann said.

Earlier this summer, the BGSU Board of Trustees approved continuing construction of the Wolfe Center for the Arts, which will be the university's home of the Department of Theatre and Film, according to the university's website.

The 93,000-square-foot facility is slated for completion sometime during the 2011-12 school year at an estimated cost of nearly $41 million.

The project has been in the works for about 10 years, said Ron Shields, chairman of the BGSU's Department of Theatre and Film.

"To say we're doing this rather than that, I feel is an inaccurate statement," Shields said.

The university decided to stop funding the Playhouse because of state cuts felt in its operating budget, Shields said.

"The Wolfe Center was funded by totally separate funds," Shields added.

"We don't have the funding to support them. ...That's the truth we've shared with everyone," said Valerie Whipple, an administrative staff member of the BGSU Department of Theatre and Film.

The university has touted its outreach theater program at the Playhouse for more than five decades.

While the main campus will no longer support the Playhouse, BGSU's Firelands campus in Huron Township will continue support through in-kind services such as technological support, Shearer said.

Throughout its existence, the Playhouse has hosted five full-scale productions during a seven-week season each summer.

That schedule may be trimmed down to four productions each season, depending on whether the Friends of the Playhouse can raise enough donations to support the full season, Shearer said.

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