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Mellencamp has been difficult act to follow


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The Crump Theatre’s 632-seat auditorium has not been filled to capacity since Seymour native John Mellencamp performed there in September 2008.

“Homeward Bound: John Mellencamp” was an A&E network concert special that also served as a fundraiser, but not to benefit the historic theater.

Hosting the Mellencamp concert required the Columbus Capital Foundation, which owns the Crump, to make about $10,000 in improvements, said Hutch Schumaker, the foundation’s president.

Some of the Crump’s lighting was repaired, a new fire door and fire escape were installed, and chairs that had been donated from the old Central Middle School were bolted down in the balcony, he said.

Proceeds from about 150 of the Mellencamp concert tickets went toward raising about $42,000 to help Columbus residents displaced by the June 2008 flood, local author David Sechrest said.

The only ongoing fundraising efforts this year are coming from sales of Sechrest’s book, “Columbus Indiana’s Historic Crump Theatre.”

The author said he is donating half the proceeds from book sales to the Crump, which has generated about $6,000 since the book was published Oct. 1, according to the book’s publisher The History Press.

About 3.5 percent of the book’s sales are designated to go to a fund within the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation for Bartholomew County to benefit the theater, Sechrest said.

It is among just a few efforts to raise money for the Crump Theatre in recent decades.

Schumaker led the most recent large-scale effort, which began in 1996. That “Save the Crump” campaign lasted for three years and raised about $125,000.

The money then was used for a new roof, installed in March 1999. A $22,000 matching grant from Historic Indiana Landmarks supplemented the roof-replacement cost.

The Crump’s marquee and façade went through a $100,000 restoration with the help of a state-approved matching grant in January 2000.

After 2008, the Crump hosted events including plays and other live performances. The theater was managed by volunteer Rovene Quigley until she retired after the last performance New Year’s Eve.

Quigley said she was able to book 46 events at the Crump in 2010; 54 in 2011;

40 in 2012 and about 37 events last year.

Fire and building code concerns have kept the theater closed so far this year, however. That means the Trump is not generating any rent revenue, although the Columbus Capital Foundation continues to pay for utilities.

The foundation says it costs about $1,500 a month for utilities and insurance. Typically, it was closed during the winter, however, when maintenance costs increase to about $6,000 a month, former Crump Theatre steering committee member Jayne Farber said.

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