Tulsa Theater Supporters Hope To Save Henthorne Performing Arts Center

Tuesday, June 3rd 2014, 11:32 am
By: Emory Bryan

The Tulsa arts community works on saving Henthorne, the Parks Department's performing arts center.

It's on the chopping block for budget cuts.

The budget cut is $260,000 that pays staff and keeps the lights on. The arts community wants to save Henthorne, but city leaders told supporters not to expect anything more from the city budget.

5/15/2014 Related Story: Supporters Rally Against Cuts For Tulsa's Henthorne Performing Arts Center

The summer camp at Henthorne is, for now, the last event that's still in the budget.

The popular program has been booked solid since April, but the camp and other theater programs at Henthorne are scheduled to end because of budget cuts.

Ron Friedberg is president of Heller Theatre that performs at Henthorne.

"I think it's going to take the community, and they've got to understand that because of the low budget, we're going to need some help," he said.

The financial situation at Henthorne has been building for years, as the Parks Department takes continual cuts in their budget.

The parks board met at Henthorne Tuesday to talk about possibilities, but for now they can only manage the budget they have, not the budget they want.

"They're doing everything in the world they can think of to find different ways to find money, and this group, given a year, they're going to make some noise in fundraising," said Parks Board Chair, Dale McNamara.

Henthorne is the backdrop for two theater programs - Heller and the Clark Theatre - which caters to children.

Several arts groups are trying to help, including a new umbrella group for the arts called "Tulsa Creates."

"What we're asking for is a reconsideration so we can plan properly for something like this, instead of having to come out and talk about this in a reactive way. We've taken a more proactive stance this time," said George Romero with Tulsa Creates.

Friedberg said with a little more time to work he's confident the show will go on.

Friedberg: "Oh way beyond the end of the summer. We're going to be here next year," Friedberg said.

The drama continues for Henthorne, as supporters meet with potential donors and private sources. Their sole focus now is getting money to get another year in, so they'll have time to find a long term solution.