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Boomer136

State of the Orlando arts

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Because there is nothing like this already here, I thought this thread might be a nice companion to the physical plant focused topic of the Performing Arts Center in the main Orlando space.

And physical plant is where I want to start off. It seems to me many say the panacea to Orlando arts is getting out of the Carr. That the only thing that can fix that place is dynamite. Might that not be a little scape-goating that benefits not only performing groups but also facility management? The Shakespeare Festival lodges in museum exibition space with no flys and little wing space and still seems to do alright.

We also have reviewers who seem not to hit the right pitch. If its popular, it is panned. If no one goes to see it, its a shame such a great thing goes un-noticed. My dad told me if something has been around known for 70+ years (not sitting undiscovered in a box for instance) and it is still obscure, chances are there is a good reason for that.

I think it is apparent from my posts I work in show business. Except for a 5 year sojourn into teaching, my paycheck has been based on butts in seats since 1982. So I have my biases. But this is a hip and intelligent group. What do you think?

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Because there is nothing like this already here, I thought this thread might be a nice companion to the physical plant focused topic of the Performing Arts Center in the main Orlando space.

And physical plant is where I want to start off. It seems to me many say the panacea to Orlando arts is getting out of the Carr. That the only thing that can fix that place is dynamite. Might that not be a little scape-goating that benefits not only performing groups but also facility management? The Shakespeare Festival lodges in museum exibition space with no flys and little wing space and still seems to do alright.

We also have reviewers who seem not to hit the right pitch. If its popular, it is panned. If no one goes to see it, its a shame such a great thing goes un-noticed. My dad told me if something has been around known for 70+ years (not sitting undiscovered in a box for instance) and it is still obscure, chances are there is a good reason for that.

I think it is apparent from my posts I work in show business. Except for a 5 year sojourn into teaching, my paycheck has been based on butts in seats since 1982. So I have my biases. But this is a hip and intelligent group. What do you think?

An excellent post, boomer. I think the idea of dynamiting Carr is more about having to justify a new space, although I think that is unnecessary, personally. When it was decided to replace the courthouse and city hall, for example, all of a sudden the asbestos in the buildings called for IMMEDIATE replacemnt, when in fact asbestos doesn't usually much harm anyone until you start ripping into the structures. But, that provided the impetus to get new buildings. This despite the very real justification (as OUC noted when they started to rebuild) that changes in technology, energy needs, ADA requirements, etc., all made the need for new facilities plausible since, as a rapidly growing area, we could afford it.

In Carr's case, I think whether it's suitable or not depends upon what you wish to use it for. As a longtime ticket holder to the Phil (and the FSO before it), I can readily tell you the acoustics are sadly lacking compared to what I found when I lived in Atlanta or Nashville. Also, the lack of the center aisle is maddening. I also understand that it is very hard, due to the high usage of the facility, for groups to have the access they need for rehearsals and the like. So, it appears to me that it was definitely time for a new PAC. Since you work in the business, perhaps you have a different take on that.

There is also the competitive factor. With a facility like Carr for the symphony, the ballet and the opera, can we attract the best and the brightest? It has been suggested we restrict ourselves, both from the perspective of the best talent onstage and the recruitment of firms most likely to support the arts in the future. Again, your take on that would be welcome.

Also, have we been able to get the best touring versions for the Broadway series in Carr? It has been suggested we haven't, and I know that stories abound of cramped spaces backstage for such performances.

Having said all that, let's not throw out the baby with the bath water. Carr is a historic part of this community, both from an arts perspective and for all those kids who marched across the stage way back when it was mostly used for graduations. I have never been one who wanted Carr to be destroyed.

You mentioned Shakespeare; indeed, that's just one of the undiscovered jewels of what can really set apart Orlando's nascent arts community: local, community-based theater. Carr could be a part of that, as could any other small space we can figure out a way to support. There was a discussion in another thread about the AMC and what might be done with it if a multiplex is not in our future. If it happens, great. But, if it can't, I'd much rather see the community undertake the building of a trust to finance interesting, cutting edge community theater and other arts that won't fit into the PAC in small theaters there.

Cities find ways to do things that are important to them - St. Petersburg was never supposed to get a baseball team, for example. But, they built the Trop anyway and made such a stink that MLB finally gave them a team to get them to shut up (even though the facility was an albatross and in the wrong place given that when considering the radius of the population to support such a team, everything to the west was fish, not people). We think nothing of spending untold millions on a Citrus Bowl that may only support two or three events per year, with the blind hope that "if we build it, they will come." Meanwhile, community theater and other small arts (imagine what could happen with Fringe if space was not a problem?) sturggle to gain a foothold. Performance art is another realm that is more likely to attract the "creative community" that Buddy's vision of a "creative village" almost is certain not to bring.

So, let's build the PAC for the established, top shelf arts, but let's also keep Carr and find as many other small spaces as we can and create the infrastructure to make sure all our "frustrated actors" out at the parks can do whatever they like. It will make Orlando more interesting, more succesful, and probably a good bit wealthier in the long run.

Edited by spenser1058
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Great post spencer. Don't get me wrong, I am definitely all for the new PAC. The Carr is trying to be all things and it has compromised on the side of reinforced sound. So you're in the right of it to say it depends on what you are using it for. Personally I think some better decision making could mitigate some issues, instead of just saying "it'll never work here" say "I don't know how to make it work" and look for solutions.

I worked some at the Woodruff, mostly for the Alliance Theatre, but also at Symphony Hall, they had their issues as well, and I learned about them when Telarc would come to town for recordings. But the Atlanta is working on a new hall now, too.

The Carr is strange in that the stage is small and the audience house is long. That long distance is one of the acoustic problems. We do shoehorn in the biggest productions with not many concessions to the building. This last show was missing only a couple of towers left and right that normally houses the subs and the lights that were instead hung on a ladder position. Well that and the lift in the traps, but that was cut for a totally different reason.

I think Piazza had 8' in width cut from the downstage portion of the deck. Normally our problem is the depth of the stage. And no one likes the upstage crossover where you have half a flight of stairs to negotiate on each end. Those are things that are not cheaply remedied.

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From my perspective, I still find that Orlando is all about having the latest, greatest, grandest thing, and who cares about whether it was worth it or not. I think too many of those in power in Orlando want the PAC more for the glory of being associated with it instead of what is the best value, It is, in essence, the McMansion of public buildings. Then again, I am in favor of the PAC - but I think you need to go out there a little more with it than just another pretty but mindless building. But why destroy the Carr just because you built a new venue? Keep them both. The Carr can be put to use for so much more than just mainline shows. There's room for more in Orlando. Every one talks about a creative center, yet they destroy the only thing they have that has any semblance of creativity! They should keep the Carr as the cornerstone of an Alternative district.

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You can turn the Carr into an independent movie theater downtown partially subsidized by Orlando art patrons. Don't get me wrong, I like the Enzian, but it's Maitland and they get Orlando money. Let Maitland and Winter Park keep the Enzian going. We could have an independent theater and a mainstream theater. The Enzian has a hard time keeping up with all the indie fare that is available anyway.

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Um, you do have a rather top notch film, video, and animation school right down the road, don't you? I don't know, maybe I am missing something here, but it would seem to me that a school like that should be more than able to keep a small theater like the Carr going if they specialized in independent and anime movies. And maybe bring a lot of that creative culture downtown to where one wants to build a creative village.

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I'm not sure if a 2518 seat theatre could be indie. Now, if perchance, you foreshortened the audience house and converted the rear of the current audience house into another facility, you would serve well both interests of the 'new' spaces you created. By making the front of the current balcony (100') the rear of a loge/balcony affair, you would get a much more intimate and less acoustically challenged venue as well as a new space of about 40' x 117'.

As with the ill-fated (at least so far) movie theaters at the plaza, the cheapest bit of a theater is the box it lives in. Especially in live theater with a fly system, you have to have to have structures to support great live loads and the rigging to transfer moving scenery to those structures. Then the power, lighting, sound, and in the case of movie theaters the lighting is replaced by the projection systems. Just something to think about as we contemplate what tearing down a working theater really means as to its ease of replacement, as well as getting the 12 movie theater multi-plex off the ground.

I find it sad that our city leaders think the new PAC means no need for the Carr. NYC has 38 broadway houses, multiple off-broadway, opera, ballet, concert, etc houses. Are we such a hick town that it is thought we cannot support two working major procenium theatres plus an opera/symphony/ballet house?

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i definitely think the carr should stay too. every large and older city has an older theater that has stayed around and become the go-to for the touring music scene(e.g. touring bands, comedians etc.) orlando cohld really use a venue like this. that would keep the more artsy higher end entertainment at the PAC and the huge arena acts for the new arena. i think the weird character of the bob carr lends very well to this. watching bands like radiohead or arcade fire in an older venue like that is much better than a new PAC. btw, since i haven't lived in orlando for a while, whats the latest with the beacham theater? is it still some horrible dance club? i wish someone would turn that back into a glorious small to midsize theater for the same type of acts like it was in the late eighties early nineties but without the double life as a club.

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No money. And the new owner may decide to do what ever they want with it. They may decide to partner with UCF and deliver a public amenity.

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how about that lovely, small stage on floor 2 of the cityarts factory? any opinion as to why it's not used as much as it could be?

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It will be used by the Indie Film Jam next weekend as part of the Florida Music Festival. The FMF will also have some of the low key bands and musicians playing there as well. In general, the space is not good for sound and picture. The seating is not on an incline except for a few seats in the very back. All the seats are convention / cafeteria style chairs and are very uncomfortable for a full length presentation whether it be live or screened. That doesn't even get into the rental rates that are charged, of which I have no knowledge. I am sure it has to do with funding, but another gripe I have about City Arts Factory is that there are no set hours. You never can tell when it will be open.

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how about that lovely, small stage on floor 2 of the cityarts factory? any opinion as to why it's not used as much as it could be?

Its more of an events space. The 'stage' is at floor level, small, with poor lighting positions. And the sound system is your standard low rent night club couple of traps l+r that is best used introducing acoustic ensembles that don't use it, singer songwiter solo acts, or as a playback system for pas de deux. Hard to put anything other than comedy or other 1 to 2 person acts in there before sound overwhelms the audience. Load in/out is through a small elevator that last time I put a show into it broke halfway through load in, so we had to haul more stuff up that darn stairway (the stuff that was too big for the elevator in the first place). No dressing rooms. Nice bar area though.

On another note I am excited to find out that Joe Volte has joined Theatre Projects Consulting. The concert/ballet/opera house at the DPPPAC will be better for it I'm sure.

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Interest in keeping Bob Carr around:

Local theater groups eye Bob Carr for future use

The city

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I don't understand how these types of organizations work or think in the Orlando area, but I will say that in other areas there is actually a kind of symbiotic benefit to having multiple theaters around. Having a variety of venues encourages a stronger foothold in the performance area. Multiple theaters actually create a focus point encouraging more productions, which in fact benefits everyone. So I am not sure the PAC wil necessarily want to d away with teh Carr.

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In just a few short years, we will have these performance spaces in downtown.

Bob Carr

New Dr. Phillips PAC

Old/Current Dr. Phillips PAC

Mad Cow

SAK

Carver Theatre

Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola

Extend to Loch Haven Park area and you add in:

Theatre Downtown

Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Orlando Repertory Theatre

We already have all of these except for the new DP PAC and Carver.

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In just a few short years, we will have these performance spaces in downtown.

Bob Carr

New Dr. Phillips PAC

Old/Current Dr. Phillips PAC

Mad Cow

SAK

Carver Theatre

Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola

Extend to Loch Haven Park area and you add in:

Theatre Downtown

Orlando Shakespeare Theater

Orlando Repertory Theatre

We already have all of these except for the new DP PAC and Carver.

Boomer, are Mad Cow and SAC going to be able to keep their spaces?

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Mad Cow is moving. Sak is too I believe but I do not know where.

Edited by jack

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I am not 'in the loop', at least as much as jack, probably more. For Mad Cow and SAK I am a customer. They use amateur/actor types for production in their houses so I have no 'in' there. I wasn't aware of SAK moving, who would go into their space? Of course I could say the same as Mad Cow. True the Cow is in a pricey location, but what are the landlords of those spaces going to fill them with, unless boarding them up ala the Dolive building gets them a financial gain, I can't see the logic there.

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If you do not have tickets for the Orlando Philharmonic/Mad Caw Theater production of Sweeney Todd (Friday/Saturday 8pm) you will be missing one of the most exciting locally produced performing arts productions of the year. This thing is national class, and I'm not just saying this because I'm working it. This is seriously worth your time.

I am so proud that Orlando groups can put this together. Davis Gaines (the Phantom for freakin' ever is Sweeney) as a local boy done good comes back with an amazing cast. Some problems remain, mostly having to do with budget, but I doubt you will find anything of this caliber presented by a local group this year.

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If you do not have tickets for the Orlando Philharmonic/Mad Caw Theater production of Sweeney Todd (Friday/Saturday 8pm) you will be missing one of the most exciting locally produced performing arts productions of the year. This thing is national class, and I'm not just saying this because I'm working it. This is seriously worth your time.

I am so proud that Orlando groups can put this together. Davis Gaines (the Phantom for freakin' ever is Sweeney) as a local boy done good comes back with an amazing cast. Some problems remain, mostly having to do with budget, but I doubt you will find anything of this caliber presented by a local group this year.

I have tickets for Saturday. Can't wait to see it!

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Sweeney Toddis the type of production that gives me hope for the perseverance of performing arts here in Orlando. Ambitious? Yes. Enough time to make it work? No. But somehow it did. I am very proud to have been a part of this.

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what's up with Orlando Ballet and their new director? I've been a season ticket holder for nearly 10 yrs and his latest comments in the Orlando Sentinel about getting rid of a good chunk of the troupe's dancers was a good thing gave me a bit of pause. Something along the lines of 'I'm glad that history is no longer here'. Not to mention there are only three performances planned for next year instead of the usual four.

Maybe I'm spoiled by the dynamic directors from the past - Bujones and Marks. But Hill seems to be very aloof. At the last performance he didn't even bother to come out for a curtain call. He didn't even bother to come out to introduce the ballet. At least the director of the philharmonic managed to make it out on stage.

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Got this in the inbox today: 

 

Good to see downtown arts are 'growing' some.  I hope that with these two joining it will help them market to arts better downtown.

 

_____________________________________________________________________

 

The Downtown Arts District announces the addition of The Gallery at Avalon Island curated by Gallery Director, Patrick Greene

 

Orlando, Fla. – June 12, 2013 – The Downtown Arts District is pleased to announce  its management agreement with The Gallery at Avalon Island, joining CityArts Factory, under the 501©3 nonprofit dedicated to advancing the arts and economic development in downtown Orlando.  Ford Kiene, a strong supporter of the arts, owns the building and is donating the space to be used for art exhibits, music and films.  Kiene says, “I believe great cities offer arts and cultural experiences that benefit the community at large from quality of life to economic impact.  The agreement with the Downtown Arts District will provide more opportunities for artists and for the public to enjoy.“  Local Central Florida arts organizer, Patrick Greene, has been hired as Gallery Director and Curator for the newly envisioned historic downtown space, which will focus on showcasing nationally recognized and local emerging contemporary artists. 

                “Orlando’s vibrant growth and enormous pool of creative talent, has us perfectly poised to establish Central Florida as the next great art community,” says Patrick Greene.  “My intent with The Gallery at Avalon Island is to present artists whose visionary work has received national recognition in the contemporary art field along with introducing community programming that will help educate and entertain the residents of our city.” 

                The Gallery at Avalon Island’s first show, ‘Imprint’, will continue through July 6.   Meet the artists on Thursday, June 20, 2013, 6 – 9 p.m. in conjunction with Downtown Arts District’s Third Thursday Gallery Hop.  The show features 9 prominent women artists, whose art seeks to explore the marks and influences left by a person, animal, nature, or inanimate object.

                The Gallery at Avalon Island is located at 39 S. Magnolia Avenue, Orlando, FL 32801 with daily operating hours Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. (private appointment available upon request). For additional information, please visit www.avalongallery.org.

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