Is it curtains for the University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall arts programming?
Excerpts from the story by Beacon Journal staff writer Rick Armon
“The curtain may be coming down on the University of Akron’s Broadway in Akron series and other popular shows at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall.
The school, which announced $40 million in cuts earlier this month, says it’s getting out of the business of being a concert and events promoter.
That decision puts this year’s Broadway in Akron series — which has brought shows such as Hello Dolly!, the Blue Man Group and Mamma Mia! to the community — and other events in jeopardy….”
“…“Without arts and culture, a community just doesn’t have its soul,” said Barbara Feld, former director of the Tuesday Musical Association. “And we are trying to have this be a beacon in this community. … It would be dreadful if that went away.”
Louise Harvey, retired UA director of development for college-centered programs and E.J. Thomas, agreed.
“E.J. Thomas is a cultural treasure in Akron,” she said. “It was built with the help of the community who have contributed to it through the years. To lose Broadway and those types of programs in Akron is going to diminish the cultural scene, particularly for people who can’t go to Cleveland. It’s a shame.”
Patty Uldal, a retired social studies teacher who lives in Jackson Township and has season tickets to events at E.J. Thomas, called the decision short-sighted and blamed the UA board of trustees for putting the school in its current situation.
“We might be somewhat of a blue collar town … but we still pride ourselves on being able to enjoy the arts,” she said. “It’s the arts that make us civilized. The beauty of the arts lifts us higher.”
If those performances disappear, it will have a negative impact on the downtown economy, Feld said.
Thousands of people who venture into the city center for shows and events at E.J. Thomas go to dinner and spend money in Akron, she said.
“It would be devastating to the health of this community,” she said.”
Read the entire story HERE.