My apologies to William Shakespeare in his monologue from “As You Like It.”
I see a corollary between this play and our own Ricks Theatre. In a recent article, the headlines screamed “Ricks Theater may lose funding.”
My immediate reaction was simply, why?
I, like many concerned Hancock County citizens, attended the meeting of the Hancock County Council. At that meeting, I had an opportunity to watch local government, private citizens and interested parties come together. I had an opportunity to meet many folk that were stirred by the article. I met a lady that had driven to Greenfield from Anderson. I met Amy Studabaker, and many others concerned with the possible closing of the Ricks.
Interestingly enough, I believe that all parties are definitely concerned with keeping Ricks open. As with most conundrums, the basic problem is lack of communication.
In Hancock County, we have various boards that play a part in the process. We have the Hancock County Tourism Bureau. The CVB actually owns the theater building. We also have the Hancock County Tourism Commission, which oversees the innkeepers’ tax.
We, of course, also have the taxpayers of Hancock County. To say the funding is complicated would be an understatement. However, the bottom line is simply this: How do we move forward with making the Ricks a viable entity to attract tourism to Hancock County?
We can, and must get the word out to Indianapolis, Richmond, Muncie, Anderson and even cities in Illinois and Ohio that the Ricks is a viable venue to stage one night or multi-night productions. We also must get the word out to travelers along the I-70 corridor of what we have in Greenfield.
Indianapolis may be the Crossroads of the United States. I submit to you that the Ricks could easily be the venue to make Greenfield and Hancock County the Crossroads of Hancock County.
I love the way the Hancock County community has attempted to align in this matter. For example, last month, Donna Steele wrote about ways to keep the theater open. She applauded Dave Scott’s efforts.
We must keep the Ricks open by simply moving forward. Almost all of the various boards mentioned agree. The theatre is vital to the economic growth of Hancock County.
Here is my proposal. Simply work together. Finger-pointing must stop.
I agree with local government that taxpayer accountability is paramount. I also agree with the innkeepers that the Ricks must show it is a draw to Hancock County. I further agree with the Tourism Bureau that they are attempting to “market” Ricks. Here is my solution.
Appeal directly to local charities, for immediate funding. Continue to write the grants. I agree with Donna Steele there are non-profits in Hancock County that could and would help with the writing of these grants. Ricks could have a fundraising gala. We could hold it at the Ricks. The arts and theater community already know that we have a jewel in this magnificent theater. We simply need to get more people in Hancock County aware of its many possible uses.
Amy Studabaker and her group are doing a fantastic job of promoting both the arts and theater. However, not everyone in Hancock County is aware of Ricks. Many think that they still show movies there.
I believe that Dave Scott, the Tourism Commission and Visitor’s Bureau are showing to the Innkeepers that when the Ricks is promoted, their bottom line will show it.
Thank you, Hancock County, for caring about the Ricks. Thank you Dave Scott.
Now we need to move forward. The stage has been set. A lot of hard work by all concerned has gone to preserve the Ricks. Let’s all make it a vital link in Hancock County economic development.
C.O. Montgomery of New Palestine is a former teacher and Sugar Creek Township trustee. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.