The History of SonLight


Orange Daily News
Orange, California

April 16, 1975
Page 2

PAPA - A bad investment?

Let's make one thing clear from the start. This paper does not object to community theater in Orange. But we do have several objections over a recent development concerning the Pacific Academy of the Performing Arts (PAPA).

PAPA is a private non-profit organization. It moved into the Playhouse on Glassell and, because of poor management, was forced to close its season containing four major productions after staging only two of them.

It is involved in legal entanglements with lien holders on the Playhouse itself. It's current proprietor, Richard Dow, has placed the blame for the troubles on former proprietor Alberto Morelli, owner of the Playhouse Norm Goodin (charging the rent is too high) and the "patronizing attitude" of the city of Orange.

After denying all blame for the problems PAPA has had, Dow went to the city council and asked for $4,000 outright and a $4,000 interest free loan to help PAPA finish the season. He could not guarantee that PAPA will be in existence a year from now or that it would be in the Playhouse a year from now.

The city council, instead of using the procedures it had set up for just such requests (sending them to a screening committee it recently established) handed over $3,500 in the form of an interest free loan. PAPA was asked only to make a "best effort" to repay the money.

The vote on the item was 3-2, with councilman Don Smith and Bob Hoyt casting the no votes. And their arguments against the loan plan were the only logical ones.

Hoyt, a banker, pointed out that in his business such a request would be turned down because of the high risk of failure. He said from a business standpoint he would have to oppose it.

Smith objected to the city "emotionally" handing out money this way and objected to the fact that he was not even informed ahead of time as to how much money would be requested. And he pointed out that the city was and is having financial difficulties of its own.

Dow's statement that Orange would become among the 15 percent of cities, based on his survey, that did not actively support such a community theater was uncalled for as was his comment that many cities provide community theater groups with rent free city buildings as well as the maintenance of those buildings.

But Dow's presentation was emotional as were many of the speakers in the audience. They all missed the point in saying they thought Orange needed PAPA to provide culture in Orange, or a place to gather on friendly terms, or that the money for the plays should be spent in Orange.

The only point that should have been considered was does it make sense to hand out taxpayer's dollars to a group that, because of its own mistakes, has run into trouble?

The city council not only violated its own ground rules on how to handle such requests, but it handed out the money with no strings attached and with no promise that even with the money the Playhouse will see another performance by PAPA. Anyone applying for a loan at a bank is silly - it appears that the Orange treasure chest is ripe for plucking and open to anyone with a good tune to sell.


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