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Financial flexibility drew Civic Theatre to Carmel center

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The Indianapolis Civic Theatre could take as long as 20 years to pay the $10 million fee it agreed to as part of a deal to relocate to the state-of-the-art Regional Performing Arts Center in Carmel.

Financial flexibility and a 100-year commitment are two factors that made the move to Carmel irresistible, said Pete Anderson, chairman of the theater's board of directors.

"The reality of it is the Carmel opportunity presented the best option for our board," Anderson said.

The community theater company has a roughly $1.5 million budget and a professional support staff. Its present home is on the campus of Marian University northwest of downtown, but its lease with the college expires in 2012.

According to the agreement announced late Tuesday, Civic will open its fall 2011 season in the Carmel's 500-seat theater, which is not yet built. The theater is part of an arts complex that also includes a 1,600-seat concert hall expected to open in late 2010.

Plans for the theater building were not final until Civic signed on as the first resident company, Anderson said. Carmel always planned to construct a 500-seat theater, but the Carmel Redevelopment Commission had not decided whether to add a 200-seat black-box space, which Civic said it would use for more intimate performances.  Anderson said the building also will include offices, classrooms and rehearsal space for Civic's benefit.

"It's fantastic for us," Anderson said.

Actors Theatre of Indiana also plans to call the Regional Performing Arts Center home, but the professional theater company has not yet formalized its deal with the city, said co-founder Cynthia Collins.

“That has been our goal since we arrived here from New York in 2005,” she said.

Collins said she was aware of Civic’s negotiations with the city and is confident there will be plenty of room for both companies. Actors Theatre plans to maintain its office space on West Carmel Drive, and is willing to work with its fellow tenants to coordinate production schedules.

“We’re a pretty flexible company,” Collins said. “We knew we weren’t going to be the only people in there. … The theater has to be constantly active. That’s the key to its success.”

Civic, founded in 1917, is the first Indianapolis-based company to pull up stakes for Carmel's new performing arts center. 

"We will need to consider a name change," Anderson acknowledged. Civic has already started noting that it was incorporated as the Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre of Indianapolis.

Carmel first expressed an interest in luring Civic in 2008, Anderson said. Although the theater company extended its agreement with Marian at that point, Anderson said the board did not think the growing college could accommodate its needs for the long term.

Marian spokeswoman Andrea Fagan said the college will look to use its 400-seat theater for educational opportunities and more of its own programs, including a lecture series.

Anderson said the Carmel performing arts center pushed for a deal this fall because the theater building needs to open by early 2011, according to Carmel's agreement with another tenant, a software firm that intends to take office space there.

"They knew we needed a new location," he said. "The timing was perfect."

Civic now has at least two years, possibly longer, to raise money for its new digs. Anderson would not discuss the terms in detail, but he said the organization is not required to make lease payments in 2011.

He would not disclose when the first payment is due, but Anderson said Civic does not have to nail down its payment schedule until the first payment is due. "Carmel showed a tremendous amount of flexibility," he said.

The maximum term is about 20 years, Anderson said, though unspecified interest charges will encourage Civic to come up with the $10 million more quickly.

Anderson said Civic draws its audience from throughout central Indiana. Patrons received a letter on Wednesday explaining that the theater sought proposals from seven Indianapolis entities. Only one responded, and Anderson said the offer was not as complete as Carmel's.

Anderson said Civic still is looking for space in Indianapolis to conduct its growing educational programs. Jr. Civic serves 10,000 students a year, according to Civic's 2008 tax return.

"We intend to maintain a presence in Marion County, if we can find a place," Anderson said. "We know where our roots are."

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  • financials
    So if Civic funds are going to be applied to operating expenses, then the Civic is getting the facility for free at the expense of the taxpayers? Otherwise, the operating expenses and the facility would both be paid for by the Civic, right? So the Civic is not contributing at all towards the facility costs? Wow...a big thank you to Carmel taxpayers.
  • Financial
    The original TIF has been in fact generating revenues beyound expectation. The addition TIF area of SW Clay was just approved and has not produced revnue yet. The additional area was added to provide a margin of safety and provide for the Limestone and other upgrades. I suspect it will also provide resources for other redevelopment projects in the Midtown area. The recent assesment of property showed glowing numbers once again in Carmel.
  • PAC
    Bruce....actually you are wrong. The TIF Carmel approved 5 years ago has not produced twice the revenue. As a matter of fact the original TIF was far short of the expectations so Brainard pleaded for a new detached TIF near West Clay that includes a CVS. This "new" TIF also funnels its' money to the arts center because the original was far below expectations. Please do your homework on your tax dollars and facts before taking someone else (Leo) to task.
  • Strong Financials
    Leo, funding of the construction for the RPAC was secured 5 years ago when a TIF district was set up in Carmel. Today the revenue from that TIF is over double what it was first projected to be and thus several recent upgrades. Funds from the "Indianpolis" Civic Theater will go to pay for operating expenses and not constructon costs. As a Carmel Resident I have no plans to give up my tickets to IRT or the Indianapolis Colts
    • Relations
      Yes Cheryl Lynn Dick and Rollin Dick (former head of Conseco that was indicted by the SEC and can still not be on the board of a publically traded company) are related. They are in fact married. Also, the attourney for the Redevelopment Commission, Karl Haas is dating Holly Stults who is a full time employee of Civic. Sounds like nepitism to me.
    • Interesting
      It is interesting that Mr. Rollin Dick, formerly of Conseco, is the chairman of the Carmel Performing Arts Center's foundation and Cheryl L. Lynn Dick is the Executive Director of the Civic Theater. Are these folks related?

      While I'm in favor of the Civic Theater moving to Carmel's PAC, it sure looks like Carmel's government, once again, threw open the checkbook.
    • Cherry-picking
      One mark of a good community is one where it fosters growth from within. The current "vision" of Carmel's mayor, as borne out in this instance of "cherry-picking", is apparently to take what has been produced by others. Building a new theater without a major tenant in a region that is barely "in balance" use-wise, was, frankly, indefensible. If not stopped, it points to a future when Indianapolis will resemble Detroit. Anyone with a sense of pride for the area realizes that one does not create a stronger body by weakening the heart.

      As for Civic, despite the protestation, there were other opportunities that, given more time and publicity, would have been fleshed out. Loyalty to the community that spawned it was not apparently at the top of its list. The forced departure from the IMA several years ago was admittedly traumatic for Civic and, to my thought, inexplicable. Still, this should not have happened.

      A reading of Tarkington's Magnificent Ambersons would be instructive for all concerned.
    • Question
      The financials make no sense to me at all. Civic pays $500,000 a year to Carmel for 20 years. The non-profit Carmel Performing Art Center builds a $10-$15 million Theater and has to borrow the upfront construction funds using the $500,000 annual payments from Civic, which will fund what? maybe $6-$7 million? In addition, who pays the utilities and maintenance?... the expense of which will reduce the amount of borrowing using the $500,000 annual cash flow to construct the theater? Is Civic paying $500,000 annually plus utiilities and maintenance? The numbers are about $5 million to $10 million short...even with interest. Someone help me out on this.

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