City Council Looks to Save Community Theatre Programs

May 8, 2014

Cuts of $71,000 for building operations and $174,000 for employees at Henthorne Park would effectively end the Clark and Heller theatre programs as they currently exist.
Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa city councilors are trying to find a way to keep community theatre programs from closing due to budget cuts. 

Mayor Dewey Bartlett's budget cuts $245,000 from the Henthorne Park Performing Arts Center. Of that, $71,000 covers building operations, and $174,000 covers salaries and benefits for the three employees who run the Clark and Heller theatres there. 

That loss of funding would lead to the building being shut down. Parks Director Lucy Dolman said the employees would be reassigned to different parks, "hopefully doing theatre programs, but it would not … be like the current setup where it's 9 a.m. to 9 p.m."

In today's budget committee meeting, several city councilors said citizens are already asking them to save the programs. 

Community Development Director Dwain Midget said giving the programs a year to find private funding partners may be a solution. 

"At least they'll know what their end product should be and have a goal, some objective to reach," Midget said. So it's a start. I'm not sure if it would be long enough, I just know it would be a start."

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center trust could have up to six positions affected by cuts as well.