Loop Hole

Performing-arts groups are trying to come together on plans for the new Loop Theatre. They need to keep the drama on the stage.

"Trying to come to consensus is certainly a challenge," she adds, which is artspeak for "somebody is being a royal pain in the ass." George-Carlson has to admit that it's a little hard to go into a meeting of artists with reports of positive fundraising activity and a general strong vibe from the community at large, only to hear "This isn't going to work."

Bud, who is serving as board treasurer, has listened as the dialogue has changed from the early conceptual stages, during which the artists acted as "polite audience members," to now, where it looks like this thing is really going to happen. "They're micromanagers, and that's good," he says. "We only have the first-draft drawings of the space, and they have devoured these initial drawings."

Those drawings show a three-story building, set between the Thai Café and the future Del Pietro's. The façade of the church may remain, and there will be room for tables outside. A studio-theater space will sit on the roof of the main building. "We had to build up," explains George-Carlson, "because there's only so much space between the restaurants. But that means now we need two elevators," a freight elevator and one for disability access. "If I had my way, I would have the whole city block; that would cut costs tremendously."

An initial drawing of the Loop Theatre: Building a new theater is more costly, but working from a blank slate means adapting to the artists' needs rather than conforming to the existing architecture.
An initial drawing of the Loop Theatre: Building a new theater is more costly, but working from a blank slate means adapting to the artists' needs rather than conforming to the existing architecture.

You can't always get what you want, that's for sure, and lots of details need to be worked out, but they inevitably will. Says Bud, "In the end, however the design's going to look, however it's going to cost out, the donors are paying for it. Let's build it the way we want it. It's not that hard."

The artists involved are e-mailing back and forth among themselves and George-Carlson daily. It's a morass of opinion, but a workable theater is going to take shape from the dialogue over the coming months. Angela Culbertson of Atrek Contemporary Dance has volunteered to serve on the building committee, and she's one of those who plays well with others. Culbertson says she can't do better than Brichetti's whipped-dog analogy: "I understand being a part of that dog, and damn it, we need this.

"It's all part of the process. I'm used to taking something that doesn't exist and then building upon that and presenting it. When we make dance, we start from nothing and make something out of it. I think the process is going quite well. I'm excited about it, that's for sure. I'm hip on the whole idea. Somebody want to build a new theater? I'm in. I'm fine with it."

Culbertson, who has just returned from a trip to Las Vegas, lends some perspective: "Cirque du Soleil just had a $95 million theater built just for them. We've got to catch up here."

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