report released on
search for downtown theater site
include a theater,
art gallery, visitors center
(October 2010) A study has been completed
of 10 downtown Madison, Ind., buildings for potential use as venues
for live performances, art displays, classes and visitor services.
Specific recommendations are part of a report which has just been released
by Madison-based consulting firm Woodburn, Kyle & Co. Madison Mayor
Tim Armstrong initiated the study. Its $3,000 cost was paid by Economic
Development Partners, the citys non-profit economic development
by Don Ward
Building at 602 W. Main St. is among
the buildings studied for use as a
possible theater in downtown Madison.
EDPs interest, according to Executive Director Corey
Murphy, is in developing a center that will serve visitors to the city
as well as locals. For that reason, all the 10 sites investigated were
If you look at Madison from a visitor attraction and development
viewpoint, downtown is the place to be, said Murphy.
Peter Woodburn, CEO of Woodburn, Kyle & Co., secured the services
of consultant Bruce Marquis of Bloomington, Ill., to conduct the three-day
assessment of several public and privately owned buildings. With a background
in theater management, Marquis specializes in arts consulting. He visited
Madison on Aug. 18-20 to inspect the buildings that have been suggested
for possible conversion.
Small Theater: Marquis reported that four buildings were suitable for
a small theater of 100 to 130 seats. One, the Union Brewery-Wesbecker
Building (602 W. Main St.), offers the most potential due to its location,
access, and range of available spaces, said the report. He cited
its good location, visibility and access. The one-level building offers
space for offices, rehearsals and teaching space, as well as room for
a theater and scenery construction and storage. One drawback to the
Wesbecker Building is its damp basement.
Other possibilities for a small theater, in order of their potential,
are the Good Samaritan Building at 211 E. Main St., the city-owned garage
at 118 W. Second St. and Eggleston Elementary School at 419 East St.
Large Theater: For a larger theater of 400 to 600 seats, Marquis
first choice would be the Ohio Theatre, 105 E. Main St. Other possibilities
are the Lanier-Madison Visitor Center gymnasium at 601 W. First St.
and Brown Memorial Gymnasium on Broadway. Marquis cautioned however,
that all three structures have significant structural issues or other
problems that make it questionable whether they could be
converted into a large theater.
Visual Arts Gallery: Marquis found three plausible locations that offer
2,000-plus square feet of open space plus ceilings at least 10 feet
high, making them suitable for a visual arts gallery. His first choice
is the Good Samaritan Building. He noted that the first floor sanctuary
could be used as an art gallery, while the two large second floor spaces
could be art classrooms. There is storage room in the basement. His
second and third choices were the Union Brewery-Wesbecker Building and
the city-owned garage.
Arts Education-Activity Center: Eggleston Elementary School was Marquis
preferred location for arts education, because of its ample spaces and
adjacent parking. The building has handicapped-accessibility issues,
he noted. Other suitable places include the Union Brewery-Wesbecker
Building and the Good Samaritan Building.
Downtown Visitor Center: Marquis picked the Madison Senior Center as
the best of those he toured for use as a visitors center. He noted its
good location, high visibility and access, with a public parking lot
100 feet away. Other suitable sites would be the Union Brewery-Wesbecker
Building and the Good Samaritan Building. The Lanier-Madison Visitors
Center is currently located in a state-owned building at 601 W. First
Two of the buildings that Marquis inspected and evaluated were not considered
optimal for any of these five uses. They were the former Eagle Cotton
Mill, owned by developer Bod Przewlocki, at 108 St. Michael St. and
the Myers-Lytle Building at 307 Jefferson St. The latter is the site
of the former Jefferson Street Antique Mall.
Murphy said the study does not set the city on any particular course
of action. For example, it doesnt address whether development
should be private or public, or whether these uses are needed at all.
I need to share it (the report) with the board and then see whats
the next step, said Murphy.
Woodburn said that for several years, People who want theater
are looking for places. The mayor didnt want always to be saying
no to somebody. The mayor also wanted to see if some
of the potential venues could be eliminated from the discussion.
What EDP and the city have is a document for planning purposes.
There apparently is a need for a performing center of some sort,
Marquis noted in his report, This study only examined the potential
of buildings to accommodate new uses. It did not address community demand
for new or expanded facilities of services. Marquis Arts Consulting
would suggest the city conduct a study to assess community and visitor
interest and potential demand prior to developing new facilities.
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