Civic renegotiates agreement, lowers payment


By Robert Annis

The Booth Tarkington Civic Theatre and the Carmel Redevelopment Commission tentatively agreed to a renegotiated agreement last week that would lower the theater group’s 2012 payment by half.

Civic Theatre Executive Director Cheri Dick hand-delivered the $200,000 check to officials on Dec. 31, 2012, but the payment will not be officially accepted by the CRC until it ratifies the new contract at an upcoming meeting, according to City Councilor Luci Snyder.

Carmel Spokeswoman Nancy Heck confirmed a deal had been reached, but declined to share the document.

“The agreement is currently under renegotiation and once a final document has been created, it will be formally presented to the CRC in a public meeting for their approval,” Heck said in an e-mail. “Until then, there is no document that I can share with you. It has never been Carmel’s policy to negotiate a contract in the press, which is what happens when drafts of unofficial documents are shared prematurely.”

Dick didn’t return a phone call seeking comment, but spoke about the Civic Theatre’s plans to renegotiate its $10-million lease at the Center for the Performing Arts last month. The Civic Theatre has 29 years to pay its agreement obligations, after which they’ll own half of the Tarkington, the 500-seat theatre they currently call home. Dick has adamantly said the theatre would pay the entire $10 million owed to the CRC, just on a different timetable.

Both Dick and city officials agree that outdated language in the original agreement – signed in 2010, before the Tarkington was even built – needed to be replaced. CPA Executive Director Tania Castroverde Moskalenko assisted the negotiations. Among the items being discussed, the Civic Theatre was expected to relinquish certain days in the smaller, 200-theatre in the CPA during the renegotiations, but sought to acquire naming rights for other parts of the building.

The theatre group was one of 16 arts groups that received $840,000 in city funding last year, nearly all of them rent-paying tenants of the CPA. Of that money, the civic theatre received $190,000 in taxpayer dollars.

Dick says the group has raised nearly a third of the $10 million owed to the CRC, but is diverting more money to their stage shows and educational programming to prove its worth to Carmel residents. Nearly $800,000 of tickets was sold during the civic theatre’s first year in Carmel.

The Carmel Redevelopment Commission typically meets at 6:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month, but as of Wednesday, there was no mention of the meeting on the community calendar on the city’s website.

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