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Before closing, Crump rarely booked locally

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City officials had planned to center the new downtown arts district around the Crump Theatre.

But a consultant’s report detailing serious safety issues means that, for the time being, the facility won’t reopen as a venue this spring.

But even when it was open, arts groups had issues with the facility and weren’t using it for local performances.

The Mill Race Players acting group stopped using the Crump some time ago because the lighting and sound are better at the two high school auditoriums, said John Johnson, who works with the acting group and the drama department at Columbus North High School.

The number of seats at the Crump would better suit the acting group’s preferences, Johnson said. But its stage space is too small for the company’s productions, he said.

Columbus Indiana Philharmonic artistic director and conductor David Bowden said the Crump stage dimensions are 20 feet wide by 29.6 feet deep, which is too small for the orchestra to perform.

The Philharmonic performs at Columbus North High School’s stage, which is 46 feet wide and 33 feet deep.

Also, the Crump’s sound quality doesn’t measure up to the orchestra’s needs, Bowden said.

Safety concerns raised by the consultants who conducted a Crump feasibility study have made any future programming there a moot point, Bowden said.

Lafayette-based architectural firm Jones & Phillips Associates said the Crump does not have a sprinkler system or functional fire escapes, its mechanical room is unsafe for people and equipment, and it doesn’t meet current structural codes.

The Philharmonic has used the Crump in the past for youth orchestra concerts and parties, Bowden said.

“If it were to be renovated in any way, we would find a way to use it,” he said. “We want to participate in whatever the community would be able to do.”

Robert Hay-Smith, owner and director of the Harlequin Theatre at FairOaks Mall, said he wouldn’t want to use the Crump, however, because the auditorium has too many seats and would make his audience feel like they were in an empty room.

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