Dramatic battle in Carmel

May 15, 2009
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Carmel Community Players, a volunteer theater founded in 1993, has announced an ambitious season of all Pulitzer-Prize-winning shows -- even though a chunk of its funding was shot down by the Carmel Support the Arts Fund and its performance venues in question.

The drama goes back a while, but became public when the city of Carmel announced grants to 11 arts organizations, including the yet-to-produce-a-play Carmel Repertory Theatre, a company with a number of former CCP-ers at its core.

The Carmel Community Players $10,000 allocation was the only one denied. Those who scored cash include Carmel Brass ($10,000), the professional Actors Theatre of Indiana ($35,000), Carmel Symphony Orchestra ($175,000), and the aforementioned Carmel Repertory Theatre ($70,000).

(Unrelated note: The cringe-worthy J. Seward Johnson sculptures that plague downtown Carmel cost the city nearly $1 million, but that's another subject.)

The CCP shoot-down has been the buzz of Indianaauditions.com, a popular site for discussion of community theater and local film production. Check out the main thread here.

Despite the uncertainty, CCP's 2009-2010 season includes "Rabbit Hole," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," "Crimes of the Heart," "How I Learned to Drive," and "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Venues to be announced.

The new CRT has announced its first production, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change," to be performed at University High School in June. The musical "Oliver!" is slated to open July 17.

I'll confess to not having seen any of the work by CCP, so I can't speak to the quality of its productions or to the artistic importance of the players who left to form the new group.

So, Carmel-ites (and other interested parties), where should the money have gone? To the established group or its fledgling spin-off? Or, contrary to what the funders seem to think, is Carmel a big enough town to support both?

Finally, which, if any, should find a home at the new performing arts center?

Your thoughts?

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  • It seems quite absurd that the City of Carmel couldn't take $10,000 from the CRP and give the CPP the $10,000 they needed. There seems to be more going on with the board than just allocating funds for the arts.
  • Funny you mention the sculptures that the city fathers purchased. I pass by these often and each time I'm struck with how ugly they are. The woman seated on a bench looks straight out of the early '80s (how long was this sculpture sitting in Johnson's studio and did Carmel get a discount?) and the father and son are equally repulsive. If this is a reflection of Carmel's art aesthetic, one can only wonder what's in store.
  • thought something smelled real bad in this thread. I spoke to a CCP supporter after the annual meeting and apparently there is a lot more to this story than is being told to the public.

    I would like for CCP to answer the following questions:

    Didn't well over half the board and a majority of the CCP membership leave over this fight?

    Doesn’t that give the other group just as much right to go for the funding?

    Did your board appear as a group of “disorganized, squabbling school children who couldn’t keep their ever-changing stories straight” to the city officials?

    Did you really send a THREATENING e-mail to the mayor prior to the funding - resulting in the zero award?

    Did a subsequent hate e-mail sent to the City Council by the CCP board lead to your eviction?

    Has the other group made several offers to share expenses and space only to be ignored by CCP?

    Come on CCP, apparently one of the threats sent to the mayor was to open a “flood of negative publicity” as apparently you have done here. I was sympathetic when I thought you were being attacked but apparently you are the ones holding the gun.

    Is it true did you make fools out of us?
  • I guess it is worse than that. I went to the CCP Annual Meeting. The current board seemed very disorganized and unprepared. I wouldn't have paid the $10.00 annual fee to these bunch of losers let along the kind of money they were trying to get from the city.

    The current board only consists of only three members who have a year's worth of experience and about a half dozen paying members the rest are the ones who formed the new group. I think the people of Carmel spoke loud and clear!
  • How dare you Robin. I happen to know a lot of the current CCP board members and they have way beyond a year's worth of experience. They are people of the utmost integrity and talent. Please get your facts straight before spreading your poison and inaccurate accusations on a public forum.
  • I am confused with Allison and how she is defending the people in CCP. I read the thread in Indiana Auditions after I linked it from Lou Harry's article. That thread clearly shows how several people are attacking the member from the new theater - in a public forum - and I was repulsed in the comments made by several people there. I started looking at the other posts and it appears that most comments that were hateful were made by a person with a callname of Dramatic Images who is involved with a CCP production.
    I am not a theater person nor do I know any of the people involved but what Tom Payne listed in his comments should be addressed by CCP.
  • Neither of you know the whole story, so to sit here and attack people that you don't even know is WRONG.

    One person is justifiably angry, so what/ One person does not represent the whole CCP board.

    My only point is that the personal attacks that were made by Robin are out of place and wrong. And since you don't know the people involved, maybe you should stay out of it as well.
  • Only three have more than a year on the CCP board! Sorry you misunderstood. CCP is making a big deal about a 13 year history. Which is funny since they started in 1993. But they state they are trying to save history. Seems like the real CCP and it's history walked out the door because of the current cast of characters. What is real shamful is they refuse to admit any mistakes they made. They seem to be content to let the other group suffer. Has anybody talked to the other group?
  • I know what I see and the current board of CCP is a joke. And as was stated well over half the board left not one person
  • @Robin Motes

    You thought it seemed disorganized and unprepared. WELL, there you have it folks. Who could argue with your thorough analysis of the meeting??

    Let me give my own analysis of the meeting, as someone who was also there. Yes, there's a lot being said on IA. I'm pretty sure none of it comes from CCP board members. It comes from people in the theatre community who, justifiably, have an interest in expressing their opinion. The people that make up the theatre community are the only reason organizations like CCP or CRT exist.

    What the CCP board DID say was that they just want to move forward and continue to produce great entertainment for the community. This in spite of, within the course of a few weeks, they've lost their funding from the city, found themselves stuck in a high-rate lease for a warehouse that was negotiated without the approval of the board, discover simple things like filing property taxes were not done for several years by former management, learn that their shows were bringing in far less money than was being reported by the management, and learn they are being evicted by the city from their facility.

    For all this to happen and the group still exists, remains positive and announces a fantastic season. Yeah, very disorganized. Very unprepared.
  • CRT has never produced a play. CCP has 13 years of quality productions in Carmel, an organization in place to continue, and until the city took it away, a well recognized venue. In fact, CCP has already without pause in any continuity continued to serve the performing arts in the area by putting on two successful shows since the the new leadership came on board. Is that a sign of disorganization? Has not the proof of organization already appeared on the Studio 15 stage?

    So between the unproven CRT and the well established CCP, Carmel picks the organization that has yet to do anything? That just doesn't make sense. The apparent lack of public debate or discussion as to the rationale simply adds to the suspicion that something is odd. The City's claim that it made sense to fund but one organiztion does nothing to explain why the City picked an organization that has yet to prove itself.

    TP's argument that since many prior CCP Board members are with the new organization that gives it an equal right to funding is revealing. Was the funding equal?
  • Just to be clear Carlo N was voted onto the CCP board and was on THAT board for only one meeting.
  • I was at the Annual Meeting as well and I'm proud of the current board of CCP. I've had positive and successful collaborations with all of the current board members within the last 2 years. Bravo to them for pressing forward during a necessary, but wonderful transition! As for IA, I know that the board members themselves chose NOT to post. Wise collective decision on their parts. They haven't had to, though. Evidently. What is being posted and being strongly expressed comes from those volunteers who have experienced past management in various, less than fortunate encounters. There expressions, in my opinion, speak volumes. Listening, City of Carmel? True leadership is just, honest, collaborative, and very discerning --- values unmanifested in past CCP management and, unfortunately, evidently void in the current Carmel leadership who don't seem to be able to do wise, thorough research before funding monies to still unproven leaders in the community. And Fishers Mom, I too have found the sculptures to be, personally, unaesthetically appealing and not my cup of tea either. When I found out the shock? GASP! I now drink coffee. Thank you all who support CCP during this, again wonderfully transitional time.
  • Get your facts straight boys many more left then the ones you name. If there were 10-11 on the board and there are 4 left use your math. greater that 50%. Seems like the reason CCP doen not want to post on IA is that they are afraid that the truth will come out and that they were the cause of EVERYTHING that has happened to them not the other group. In fact I have not heard anything, not one thing, that the other group has done to CCP. All I see is HATE, VENOM, SPREADING RUMORS and just down right NASTINESS on the other site (All without a shread of evidence and absolutely no facts) In indy a new theater group springs up everyother day, why can't this group do the same?

    If the people of Carmel want to support the new theater - You in indianapolis just stay out of it!
  • And your wrong CCP board members have responded So much for taking the high road
  • I'm glad current CCP board members didn't respond on IA. They chose not to. It was an executive decision. And a wise one. I think the fruit of that decision will be sown down the road. Anyway, why should they now? What purpose? Propagate negativity. Its done. Its a moot point. And again, they're being defended, with good cause, by others who have first hand experiences. Why waste their valuable energies when their focus now should be on their current show and in securing a new venue? Onward, CCP! I'm on board. Per IA and even IBJ, so are alot of others. Good!
  • The split is no big deal. That kind of stuff infighting and spinning off happens all the time. The bigger question for the community is why the one group is being supported and the other is not. Who is doing what behind the scenes.

    Unrelated: The first half of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is my favorite musical of all time. I'll definitely go see it.

    More related: If Carmel were to spend $1million cutting the J. Seward Johnson sculptures to bits and hiring a monkey to throw the scraps into the sea it would be money well spent. Those monstrosities have the nuance, depth, and maturity of a Calvin Peeing on a Chevy Logo sticker. Idea: sell the kitch (maybe to Lansing, MI, which is also lamentably attracted to Mr. Johnson's work) and use the funds to support something not embarrassing.
  • Who is Robin Motes and what is your affiliation? Seems you have some bitterness and why? We still don't know who Alec Smard is? Come out come out where ever you are. And for the record CCP is 15 years running.
  • Regarding the opinions that the theatre community has been expressing on IA... it's the theatre community that CCP has been a part of! It's the community that even those who split off to form the new group have been a part of!

    When the news of the Council's decision broke, the reaction was shock and sadness. From that has stemmed anger.

    There is no reason for the 2 groups to be fighting. There is no reason for CCP to be getting the shaft.

    It is pathetic and sad that things have been handled the way they are. The Council's decision making thus far is only serving to really destroy a lot of potential.

    These are the arts. We should be working to come together and bring the best of all possible art options to Carmel and central Indiana. Infighting, bitterness, backstabbing... only serves to live up to the stereotypes of theatre.
  • OK - Here are the facts about the CCP Board:
    Creviston was board president and resigned.
    The interim President finished his term (2 months later) and left on very good terms.
    Creviston's brother stayed as Treasurer until a few months ago; was replaced by an existing board member.
    Current board members:
    8 current members; 2 new people since previous leadership; 6 people voted on during previous leadership and still serving terms.
    Crenshaw was never on the board - just appointed Encore rep.
    Carlo N approached the CCP board in January, wanting to be a member; attended one meeting in February; was voted onto board; quit the next week and started CRT's website.
    OK - let's do that math, shall we? 8 current board members; 6 brought on during previous leadership and still on the board.
    The new group has 3 husband/wife couples (guess that lesson wasn't learned the first time, huh?) and 1 previous CCP president.
    Everyone has an agenda, Mr. Theatre/Payne.
    What's yours?
  • I have read the Indiana Auditions site for several years. I am not on or even behind the stage. Rather, I am your audience. I pay to see your shows. At times I take my children to your shows and I almost always encourage my family and friends to attend your shows.

    Interestingly, I also know Larry. He and I have worked together for years so I know him professionally. Also, through the years, he has become a friend of mine. Because he is a friend of mine, I feel compelled to say something here in support of him and his character.

    It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone who knows Larry would disagree that he loves the theatre. He absolutely, truly loves it. During the years I’ve known him, he has spoken of CCP, the fantastic and talented actors and actresses, the sets, the great shows. When Larry spoke of the theatre, it was never self-serving or about him. It was clear the theatre was a great joy to him and his enthusiasm was contagious. He wanted to share his love of theatre with others so he always encouraged others to experience the theatre also.

    Now…I have read this entire string of posts on the Indiana Auditions page about tar and feathers, liars and cheats, back-stabbing, heartless SOBs, and watching your checkbooks. There is a post about the new group trying to run the old group out of business and how “the Creviston name will forever be tainted in the Indy theatre community”. All of this makes me hurt for my friend, who I know to be a very good, kind man and who, beyond that, has done a great deal for the theatre community of Carmel. It seems all of this is written without thought or care to the pain it causes the individual(s) it is directed toward.

    I am aware there are always 2 sides to a story. I'm sure I do not know the entire history of what went on. However..I am certain that NO ONE deserves such horrible, cruel things to be said about him/her on a public forum. Beyond that, I can read through all of this and see that Larry/CRT is not slinging mud back. I imagine he could – but he seems to be taking the high road here, which I find admirable.

    Additionally, doesn’t all of this seem to defeat the entire purpose of the community theatre? Isn’t theatre meant to bring joy, move you, expand your mind, and touch your emotions? …Isn’t it meant to be used for good? Seems to me all of you have lost the point here.

    As much as I love the theatre…as much as I have been touched and amazed at your talent… I find that these cruel comments may be, to this theatre-goer, just too much of a distraction.
  • I have never worked with or even met Larry Creviston or any of the other new theatre's (CRT's) members, so I can not speak to their character or their artistic or business skills. I do not know Murphy here, either, but I believe what he wrote about Larry loving theatre.

    For example, Larry posted passionately about his hopes and dreams for the new Carmel Performing Arts Center on IA (Indiana Auditions) back in 2006, giving the Indianapolis Civic Theatre as a model for what the Carmel Community Players might become: a hybrid of professional and volunteer theatre.

    I also know what it's like to be on the receiving end of online hate, so I sympathize. No one deserves that.

    The remaining CCP people and their commitment to all-volunteer theatre don't deserve to be hated either. As I say, I have never met Larry, but I _have_ met and broken bread with current CCP board members Lori Raffel, Michael Long, and Susan Smith. I have met some of their famiy members and/or I have hung out with them at the Indy Fringe Festival and at other Indy area theatres' shows.

    I would not necessarily call any of them for a ride to the airport (to use Lou's friendship yardstick from a previous post) but I know them well enough to be able to say that they, too, love theatre, and their hearts, too, are in the right place.

    For a while I was angry with them because they fired my young friend, Dane, from his job in the CCP box office with barely 24 hours' notice. However, I backed out of mother hen mode when they told me that they had had to take such drastic measures because after the big split into two theatres, they learned that their organization had much less money than they had been led to believe. This was several weeks ago, before the City-County Council meeting.

    I have come to admire them for their ability to persevere in making art and building community in spite of setback after setback.

    As to who was/is responsible for the quality of the dozen or more CCP shows that I've seen in the 2 1/2 years that I have been a theatre junkie, I don't know for sure. I can tell you that I have enjoyed every CCP show I've seen.

    As a theatre blogger, I will give CRT a chance because what kind of theatre blogger would I be if I did not at least check out a new theatre group? But I will continue to give CCP a chance, too. I love the idea of being able to see a bunch of Pultizer Prize winners back to back.

    As a Carmel home owner, I think it would be great if both groups had my city's financial support. I know that it is easy to make fun of Carmel, but I like living here, and I like that we're trying to be a city that is known for supporting the arts. I think the two theatre groups are different enough in their missions and in the ways that they approach making shows that it is worth supporting both of them, at least to some extent.

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • Correction to Hope's post. In February I was asked by the CCP board to help them upon the resignation of their Treasurer. I did so until their annual meeting May 13. Check the CCP website for the current management team.
  • Thanks, Susan. I was going by the March 6, 2009 press release that is under the About CCP link on CCP's website. However, I see now that under Contacts there is a more up-to-date list of officers.

    I woke up this morning thinking some more about the CCP shows I have enjoyed during my short time as theatre junkie. I saw Art TWICE at Studio 15 last year, I enjoyed it so much. That CCP show was directed by Ken Klingenmeier and produced by Kim Howard. The three men in it were played by Earl Campbell III, Daniel Shock, and Larry Adams.

    In my first blog post about that show, I noted that the lighting was designed by Ron Creviston. He is different from the new CRT's Larry Creviston, and they are both different from Tom Creviston, who is involved with a third theatre group, Stageworthy Productions, which just closed an Encore show in a venue in Broad Ripple.

    Anyway, I know it's a little early for You Review It Monday, but I saw James Still's beautiful new play at the IRT Friday night. It made me cry because it reminded me that I love the personal relevance of history.

    One of the characters in that play says something that is relevant, I think, to the situation in Carmel.

    19-year-old Naomi says to Bill, the historian who is working on a book about William Conner, the man who helped settle Indiana and who, in the process, helped force his Lenape Indian wife and their six children to leave the area with all of the other Indians, that the important question is not How could you do such a thing? but rather, How are you doing?

    Hope Baugh
    Indy Theatre Habit
  • Oh, and duh: I forgot to say that James Still's new play is called Interpreting WIlliam.

    Hope
  • I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought those statues were hideous.
  • Has anyone seen the cast list for CRT's production of Oliver?
    Carmel City Councilman Rick Sharp and his daughter Rachel both have roles in the musical. Mr. Sharp is the one who did not recuse himself from the CCP vote, right? Yep. Just checking.
  • Pamela, and your point is? Rick Sharp is a resident of Carmel and has every right to audition in any theater that he pleases. Rick Sharp has also been involved in CCP productions in the past. I guess instead of trying to smear the other theater you should help CCP in addressing the allegations brought forth in one of the posts above. As a reminder they are listed below:

    1. Did your board appear as a group of “disorganized, squabbling school children who couldn’t keep their ever-changing stories straight” to the city officials?

    2. Did you really send a THREATENING e-mail to the mayor prior to the funding - resulting in the zero award?

    3. Did a subsequent hate e-mail sent to the City Council by the CCP board lead to your eviction?

    4. Has the other group made several offers to share expenses and space only to be ignored by CCP?

    5. Come on CCP, apparently one of the threats sent to the mayor was to open a “flood of negative publicity” as apparently you have done here. I was sympathetic when I thought you were being attacked but apparently you are the ones holding the gun.

    I guess your continued posting in this thread support #5 above. Oh well....
  • Oh, and City Attorney Doug Haney is in the cast, too.
    Who knew? If only CCP would have known - they could have lowered the level of talent in their productions, but increased the money in their funding in a big way.
  • Pamela's Job#1 : Continue to pursue CCP threat sent to the mayor to Open a flood of negative publicity. Hopefully you are paid well by this group to continue your job.
    I am a paying patron of theater in Carmel and after I have read what was written in this article as well as what has been written in Indiana Auditions it is clear that I will not support a theater who espouses negativity. As a Carmel resident I am really curious about the allegations above and why no one has come out to deny them. Looking at the threads in the two sites after these allegations came out the attacks stopped except for you.
    Since I am a Carmel resident I will call around and try to find out the whole story. I know people in the City, I know people in the theater community. Somehow the truth will come out.
  • I'm a paying patron of Carmel theatre (and others) also. It should be pointed out that neither board has responded publicly to anything. CRT doesn't need to. They have their funding. They have the venue that they wanted (University High School). It was the original venue for
  • Here my original post before it was twisted by the blog software.
    Remember kids, save it before you send it.

    I'm a paying patron of Carmel theatre (and others) also. It should be pointed out that neither board has responded publicly to anything. CRT doesn't need to. They have their funding. They have the venue that they wanted (University High School). It was the original venue for Little Women( mysteriously yanked from CCP). The board of CCP has taken the high road and has stuck to that. If someone can prove the allegations above, please do so. I attended the board meeting as a show of support for CCP. I found it to be like any other theatre board meeting( other than the fact that there is a definite crisis due to previous board members).
    The attacks did not stop because of the alleged allegations. They stopped because a respected member of the theatre community asked them to stop. It would be nice to stick to the facts.
    With the casting of the previously named people there is at the very least the appearance of Quid Pro Quo If they can step up and provide a quality performance in their roles then they have nothing to worry about. If it turns out that they get a standing ovation for just going out on onstage, then it becomes another matter.
    I think the tenor of these discussions should cause us to question how we define community theatre. Should CCP and CRT be just for Carmel people. No. I can think of no CT in the Indianapolis area that is strictly populated by people in the area in which it sits. That's a fact. I live in Lebanon and go to shows in Carmel, Noblesville, Westfield, Beech Grove, and Mass. Ave. The theatre community is bigger than any one neighborhood.
    If you're going to talk smack, Man up and use your real name. I can say that I know people, too.
  • The flood of negative publicity is not coming from the principle players, its coming from people who hear a rumor from another rumor. There was no threatening email sent to the mayor, the annual meeting was organized, and as far as negotiations between the two groups there are a handful of individuals, including my self and my husband who are trying to mend some fences. I am working with CCP's Little Women. and they are accepting the current situation and moving forward. Just let it go and let time work everything out.

    Vickie

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