Magazine article American Theatre

Swamped by IOWA Flood

Magazine article American Theatre

Swamped by IOWA Flood

Article excerpt

CEDAR RAPIDS AND IOWA CITY, IOWA: In federal-government terms, theatres are "non-critical services," akin to zoos, homeless shelters and libraries, when disasters such as the June floods in Iowa decimate an area. Though performing arts facilities were declared eligible for federal relief in 2006, thanks to advocacy by the Performing Arts Alliance (formerly American Arts Alliance), organizations that don't own their own venues, or have no lease holding them directly responsible for damages, lack that recourse.

That was the dilemma faced by Riverside Theatre of Iowa City. "FEMA sent us to the Small Business Administration for disaster loans," says Jody Hovland, Riverside's artistic director. "There is a $500 grant available through the Iowa Arts Council. We don't have insurance resources because flood is excluded from basic policies. We're limited to what remedies we can get from granting sources. If you don't own your facility, while your livelihood may have depended on that location, you can't claim any losses for either material goods or loss of business. It's one of those catches."

The good news is that the region's summer shows did go on--even though the basement dressing rooms and all but the last three rows of seats of Theatre Cedar Rapids were ruined, and floodwaters lifted a nearly century-old Mighty Wurlitzer organ off the stage at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids. Both the University of Iowa's Iowa Summer Repertory and Cedar Rapids Opera had to relocate to high school auditoriums--as did Riverside's two summer Shakespeare productions, which opened within four days of evacuation. …

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