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Theater operators collaborating

Citizen Staff Writer



Operators of the city-owned Fox, Rialto, Temple of Music and Art and Tucson Convention Center theater complexes are looking for ways to collaborate so that the downtown theater district can function more effectively.

The Fox Theatre’s financial turmoil in recent months raised the alarm for other art entities to revive the collaborative efforts from 20 years ago that saved the Temple of Music and Art, the home of Arizona Theatre Company.

“So many times people are reactive,” said Andy Holtz, general manager of the Arizona Theatre Company. “It’s good to be proactive.”

Financial troubles at the Fox last summer got the attention of Councilwoman Regina Romero and Jim Cook, a former general manager at ATC and the now-shuttered Tucson Center for Performing Arts, 40 E. 14th St.

“Casual conversations lead to formal conversations,” Cook said. “Can’t we do better as a community to think strategically on how to coordinate the performing arts venues with downtown redevelopment?”

Cook was the convener for Romero to launch a downtown performing arts facilities management working group, which had its first brainstorming session at 8 a.m. Friday.

The meeting brought together leaders for all the above theaters and representatives from Councilmembers Romero, Nina Trasoff and Steve Leal’s staffs, the city manager’s office and the Parks and Recreation Department.

“How can we pool resources or management strategies that might work?” Romero aide Diana Rhoades asked.

One thing that became clear to Jaret Barr, assistant to City Manager Mike Hein, was that the city has widely differing operating agreements with the private-sector organizations that occupy the city-owned theaters. Maybe the agreements should be standardized, Barr said.

Longtime downtown architect Corky Poster won unanimous support for each theater operator to write up a one-page sheet of capital needs and a one-page sheet for operational needs. And Holtz asked the city to compile a list for everybody on how much the city is investing in each of its theater facilities.

Participants agreed the working group should expand to include other theater groups and the Tucson Pima Arts Council. Arts entities who want to take part can contact Rhoades at Ward1@tucsonaz.gov.

Holtz said theaters could consider a combined ticketing system, which could be accomplished as ATC plans to upgrade its own ticketing system. He said he thinks a solution for the Fox could be a resident company such as the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., or Prairie Home Companion in St. Paul, Minn.

Fox, Rialto, Temple of Music and TCC looking to collaborate

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