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Letter: Statements in appraisal of theater need clarification

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Note: The statements, views, and opinions contained in this letter to the editor are those of the author and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect, the opinions of The Republic.

From: Rovene Quigley


Several of us are at a loss to know if the recent Crump Theatre appraisal was geared to helping renovate and preserve our beloved Crump Theatre or meant to put the fear of God into us if we dared to try to keep on using it because they want to tear it down for some unknown reason.

I want to point out two major misstatements before I respond to some of the statements:

“It lacks functioning fire escapes on the building’s west side.” Wrong. I worked with our local and state fire chiefs to bring the building up to the current system. I sealed the “opera box” openings and made the stairs fireproof by installing plywood that was painted with fire retardant paint.

They were then approved as the fire exits from the balcony by the local fire chief and state fire inspector. The state has inspected the Crump annually. We are obeying its request that we have a firefighter on the premises with a direct dial call to the fire department at all events.

“The electric is bad.” Wrong. When I took over the renovation of the Crump Theatre more than 11 years ago, I was given $30,000 to spend that they had offered to a contractor. I immediately saw that the electric was nonexistent.

 At Cummins’ recommendation I hired Forster Electric Co., and it redid all of the electric, including the large 220 panels in the back closet, added a second panel onstage with 16 outlets, upgraded the floor outlets onstage, replaced the panels in the front area of the theater and them moved them upstairs to meet new code, at a cost of $26,000. The important electric is in great shape. We still need neon tubes on the large columns.

Several of the problems listed could be remedied at a reasonably small expense. The stage floor could be braced simply by installing beams directly under the stage floor that could be held up by metal posts normally used for basement posts.

“The existing fly house above the stage is not capable of supporting current touring shows.” I went to Clowes Hall recently to see “Memphis the Musical.” That traveling show had a stage three stories high. The back 2½ pages of the program contained 560 names of patrons who had donated money to bring the 2013-14 Broadway Across America season to Clowes.

Do we really set our sights for such undertakings? I was often asked why we couldn’t bring in another famous act like John Mellencamp. The answer is simple: The film company paid John Mellencamp $45,000 to appear here. Anyone what to step up and sponsor another famous act?

Crump limitations:

“Seating capacity is too small.” “Seating capacity is too large.” Regardless, it is what it is, as are all of the other school theaters, and we can live with that. We have larger venues that should be used for the bigger crowds. Empty seats shouldn’t be a problem.

“It does not have its own sound equipment.” That has been a very smart decision. Tom Pickett told me not to invest in sound equipment because “they will steal you blind.” We have had the rule that no sound equipment can be left overnight because of the risk of theft. Another aspect is that each event has its own unique need for equipment. We could not afford all equipment for every need.

“Lobby space is too small.” Was the outer lobby included in that calculation? I was told it was not. It should have been. There is an ample area there for people moving out of the auditorium.

“No loading dock or space for loading available.” We have double doors at the back of the stage where a van can be unloaded very easily. Most equipment these days is light and can be hand-carried or brought in on a cart.

When the film company came to set up for filming John Mellencamp’s concert, it brought two flat-bed semis and parked them back-to-back in the alley by our big double doors, then built a ramp out into the Sprague parking lot from the semis to unload their big camera. If we would ever again have the need for such heavy equipment, we could do the same.

“It does not meet current seismic code.” Neither does our courthouse. Are we supposed to tear it down, too?

“The mechanical room has water damage.” A large tray in an east upper room of the theater, which is supposed to catch the condensation from the air conditioner, has become clogged with sediment in the past and needed to be cleared out.

That caused a slight amount of moisture to seep through a section of the end wall of the room. It is far removed from the electric cabinets and would not reach them. It should be a simple thing to stop the seepage into that room by sealing the wall.

“It is not handicap accessible.” It would be very easy to add a building where the Crump lawn is now. It could house larger restrooms with handicap accessible ones included, a bar and also an elevator to take people up to the second floor lobby and restrooms. In the meantime, we could rent handicap-accessible Port-a-Potties until we could build handicap accessible restrooms.

It has been suggested they build a new theater on the Sears parking lot. That parking lot is very much needed in downtown Columbus and should not be removed. It now serves the block parties on Fourth Street; when there are large events at Mill Race Park it is used for parking; it serves the new Commons, YES Cinema and all the new restaurants in downtown Columbus.

If the Sears building is turned into an art venue, it will be necessary to have this parking lot for the people attending those events. We already have a parking shortage downtown; don’t be short-sighted about the future needs.

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