A theater update

Orpheum Theater Center, proposed state cuts to community colleges discussed by IVCCD Board

Untiedt

Untiedt

Live music, comedy shows, wine tasting and many other cultural experiences come to Marshalltown via the Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) Orpheum Theater Center, and the IVCCD Board of Directors heard an update on the facility Wednesday.

“I think that there are positive signs in terms of audience development; we have a decent number of people that come to multiple events every year,” said Orpheum Director Bob Untiedt during his update at the board meeting. “I think, collectively, with the Friends of the Orpheum Theater and other input from folks, we have a strategy that makes sense.”

He described several shows and events coming to the theater center in the coming year, as well as ideas for growing the facility’s popularity and outreach. Returning in 2018 will be Winterfest, the Live After Five concert series, wine tasting, the Just Add Spam improvisational comedy group and more.

“The core programming strategy that we have is one to two movies a month and then six of them free to [elementary] schools, and then one to two Black Box events,” Untiedt said. “Most of those Black Box Theater events will be music, but we will do at least some poetry and dance on a regular basis.”

He said efforts to create community partnerships are also under way, from focus groups with local companies like Lennox Industries and Emerson Process Management-Fisher Controls to events focused on Marshalltown’s Latino population, such as the Latino Heritage Festival hosted in September of 2017.

Untiedt praised the Friends of the Orpheum Theater f during the presentation.

“Since February of 2017, there has been no expenditure of funds for any performance in the Orpheum Theater by the college itself,” he said. “Everything that has happened, every dance company, every music event, is paid for by the revenues that are generated by the Friends of the Orpheum Theater.”

The board also passed a handful of items during Wednesday’s meeting, including the 2018-19 annual meeting calendar. Also approved were contracts for college-level instruction with four school districts, including Green Mountain-Garwin and Beaman-Conrad-Liscomb-Union-Whitten (BCLUW).

The board also approved the purchase of Lumens registration software from Augusoft Inc. in the amount of $26,800. The software will replace the current Higher Reach program used for registration at Iowa Valley Continuing Education.

Proposed budget cut concerns

Another topic of discussion at Wednesday’s meeting was a cut of $1,813,797 from the state community colleges outlined in Gov. Kim Reynolds’ budget proposal released earlier this week.

“I think we have legislative support, and I would hope that number would not remain firm,” said IVCCD Chancellor Dr. Chris Duree of the cut proposed for the current fiscal year. “We were disheartened to hear that.”

He and district Director of Governmental Affairs Cindy Schulte emphasized that the figure is part of a proposal, and that the Iowa House of Representatives and Senate will make the final decision on appropriations and cuts.

“This is a pattern that’s an exact replica of last session, when we walked in and saw that the state had a shortage of state funds to pay for state expenditures,” Schulte said. “It has to go through the House, it has to go through the Senate, and the adjustments are made.”

In her opinion, the final cut to state community colleges will be less than the proposed $1.8 million when passed into law.

Marshalltown Community College and Ellsworth Community College, along with the rest of the state’s community colleges, experienced two budget cuts in Fiscal Year 2017, and Duree criticized any continued cuts.

“This team takes budgeting extraordinarily serious,” he said. “That said, when they (the state) come at us with less than six months left in a budget year with a de-appropriation, and this will be the third in less than 18 months, that’s just no way to do business.”

Duree added the district will do what it can to keep up a seven-year trend of having lower tuition increases than the state average.

“At some point, they have to decide where education is as a priority in this state,” he said. “We believe we have strong legislative support; we’ll see what happens.”

The next IVCCD Board of Directors meeting is set for 4 p.m. Feb. 14 at the District Administration Building, 3702 S. Center St.

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com