Ashland’s storage needs threatening local theater

Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at 3:06 pm

The curtains might be going down at one local theater.

The volunteer-run Ashland Firehouse Theater is in jeopardy due to the town government’s storage problems.

The theater operates in town-owned space inside the former firehouse, adjacent to the town’s public works department, space now being eyed to meet the town’s storage needs.

Megan Mudd, the theater’s voluntary executive director, appeared before town council Tuesday night to plead the theater’s case and ask council about its intentions for what she called a community asset.

“We’ve become, in the past year, a real partner for the town, and that includes little things like Train Day. We don’t consider that little anymore, right? That’s a big deal and we are the only working theater in town that provides a venue,” she said.

Mudd also referenced the theater’s role in partnering with organizations like the Ashland Museum, the Alzheimer’s Association and Relay for Life. The theater is also the venue for an upcoming performance by the Whistlestop Theatre Company, which had planned for future productions as well.

“We’re asking you all to, at most, just tell us what is the…Firehouse Theater’s fate? Are we going to be allowed to continue? Because if not, I think this is something the citizens should be made really well aware of because it would be a true loss to our community,”Mudd said.

“It’s kind of hard to make plans for the future without knowing whether we have the space or not,” she added.

Noting she was a “fan” of the theater, Mayor Faye Prichard said council was not yet prepared to give Mudd an answer concerning its fate.

“We’re still meeting, we’re still taking,” she said. “There’s a lot of conversation to be had.

“As your email said today, storage is not special,” Prichard added, referring to correspondence sent by Mudd to council earlier that day. “But it is special when it means the safety and welfare of the folks who work here at town hall and the storage has become a problem in that it may not be safe. So we are going to have to take a long hard look at how we use our facilities before we make that decision and I hope that you will trust that we will not make it lightly.”

After further prodding and confirmation from Town Manager Charles Hartgrove, Prichard said such a decision could come down within the next two weeks.


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