Historic Memorial Opera House is worth checking out
By Michelle Smith Memorial Opera House Business Director May 17, 2013 1:34PM
Exterior of the Memorial Opera House in Valparaiso Tuesday Oct. 4, 2011. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 20, 2013 6:09AM
Since being appointed the new business director of Memorial Opera House in Porter County, I have found that many people are completely unaware of its existence. This historic theater, a living memorial to the Civil War built by the Grand Army of the Republic, is 120 years old this year and has been on the National Registry of Historic Places since May 24, 1984.
The staff, volunteers and actors mount seven theatrical productions each year while also providing the community access to concerts, orchestras, plays, stand-up comedy, lunchtime cabarets, children’s theater camps and advanced theater/dance classes. In essence, we bring the artistic opportunities of the big city to your back yard.
This past year has ushered in a new staff and an exciting venture for all of us. With limitless artistic energy and an unfailing belief in the value of the Opera House, we have streamlined operations in each area of the theater: increasing our efficiency, decreasing our costs and offering more programming to the community. And this new programming has connected us with new community partners, both in advertising and sponsorship.
Several companies that have never before supported Memorial Opera House have already stepped forward to provide financial support. They are not only advertising in our show programs and sponsoring eco-friendly purchases for our Set Design and Construction Team, they are also providing entertainment and refreshments for fundraisers held at the Opera House to benefit our Sound and Light Systems.
Furthermore, the new staff, with much-needed help from Porter County, has fulfilled our promise to begin long overdue renovations of Memorial Opera House. Already this year Porter County has replaced or repaired the leaking roof, the damaged/leaking gutter system, rotted roof trusses, damaged brickwork, plaster on the theater walls, rotted emergency exit doors and all faulty door hardware. The work has been completed with care, diligence and an eye toward the future.
Memorial Opera House has stood in Porter County for 120 years as a monument to the Civil War and a safe haven for the arts, and it is, as the county recognizes it, our duty to maintain it as such.
In addition, we have also reestablished The Memorial Opera House Foundation to continue on the road to self-sufficiency in our programming and operations. Already, the Memorial Opera House Foundation has helped us launch a new Annual Membership Fund, garnering 160 new members and raising more than $10,000. In 2013, Porter County will continue to repair and maintain the Opera House as one of its assets, but all of the operating expenses incurred will be paid from the revenue generated by the Opera House itself and from the donations given to the foundation.
It is, without a doubt, a promising start. And we think it is time for Memorial Opera House to be known in your home, on your street, in your town and throughout Indiana. Come join us and see for yourself how we are spotlighting history, community and the arts.