A&E SEASON PREVIEW: Talking Points

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How will new leadership alter the A&E scene?

The off-season didn’t provide much of a respite for many groups as they welcomed new executives into their museums and performance halls.

The Indianapolis Museum of Art in mid-August unveiled its new CEO, Charles Venable from the Speed Art Museum in Louisville. The day before, the Indiana Museum of Contemporary Art announced it had permanently appointed Shauta Marsh as its executive director.

As those announcements came out, Tania Castroverde Moskalenko was settling into her position as the head of the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel.

Meanwhile, the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra was taking applications for someone to replace Simon Crookall as CEO.

At Indianapolis Downtown Inc.—a non-arts group that holds itself responsible for improving the scene as part of its stewardship of downtown—Sherry Seiwert has stepped into the top leadership role.

The A&E executive turnover could mean a flood of new ideas that could dictate the city’s cultural presence for years to come. Of course, many of these people will have to work with budgets battered by slimmer endowments and waning donations.

Zoo not monkeying around with ape house fundraising

The Indianapolis Zoo hasn’t sold itself short on its future International Orangutan Center.

The park has described the exhibit as a “state-of-the-art” facility that “is being proclaimed as the world’s best zoo exhibit.”

Donors have rallied behind the project. The Dean and Barbara White Foundation in Crown Point cut a $2 million check to help fund the $20 million construction project. A $30 million fundraising campaign was launched in December. Most of that money will cover the cost of the home for endangered apes.

In just over half a year, the campaign had pulled in $25 million. But there are still a few bucks to go…

Butler’s theater a bridge to Indy?

Butler University wanted more national and international visibility for its arts programs. So the school decided to build a 450-seat theater.

University leadership has begun kicking around ideas to bring attention to the $13 million Howard L. Schrott Center for the Performing and Visual Arts. The dean of the College of Fine Arts has suggested a festival next spring after the theater opens.

The center will be more than a venue to display student and faculty talent, Butler hopes. The theater is also intended to draw in performers from around Indianapolis, further bridging academia and the city.

What will the critics say?

For the first time, the American Theatre Critics Association will hold a weekend conference in Indianapolis (organized by IBJ). It’s too soon to tell how many scribes from around the country will attend, but it will be a packed few days, including performances by just about all of our professional theater companies, including the Indiana Repertory Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, and Beef & Boards Dinner Theater, plus time at the Palladium with Michael Feinstein and his Great American Songbook Archives. How will Indy stack up when these writers return to their home cities to write about what they experienced?—Lou Harry

Which way will Georgia Street go?

After $12.5 million, Georgia Street was Super Bowl-ready. And more than 1 million visitors passed through the newly tricked-out downtown corridor.

But what’s next? The city and Indianapolis Downtown Inc., which manages the three-block stretch, see plenty of potential in the street that links Bankers Life Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center. It could be the next Mass Ave or Broad Ripple, they say.

What will that take?

IDI’s new president and board members are working on that, pursuing monthly events they hope will pique the interest of young professionals.

But before that happens, they need to finish repairing the pedestrian corridor battered by legions of Super Bowl fans.

Will collaboration save the opera?

Axe swings at the budget and fundraising sprees have been just enough to keep the doors open at Indianapolis Opera.

A partnership with Indiana University will ease some of those pressures. IU’s Opera Theatre will perform “Aknahten” in March at Clowes Memorial Hall, which should save Indianapolis Opera the $150,000 it would take to do a production on its own.

Operas nationwide have coped with the same dire financial situation experienced in Indianapolis.

Putting several singers and an orchestra in front of stage sets has made the art form a pricy one to produce.

Will more groups seek savings by collaborating with other groups to keep these costs in check? If not—what will be the alternatives?

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