The History of SonLight


Orange City News
Orange, California

August 6, 1975
Editorial Section

After PAPA, what next?

"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."

With those words the Orange Daily News ended an editorial printed April 16th questioning the soundness of a city council decision to give the Pacific Academy for the Performing Arts (PAPA) #3,500 to help it finish its season. All the council asked was that the money be paid back if possible and that a fund-raising campaign be started.

That was in April. Less than three months later, PAPA apparently decided to call it quits and cancelled rehearsals for "The Taming of the Shrew." And with it the glorious dreams of making The Playhouse some type of theater showcase in Orange County went down the drain along with $3,500 of Orange taxpayer's money, another $2,000 from Pacific Drive-In Theaters, plus private donations. For the second time in a year The Playhouse has proven to be a theatrical jinx and the people of Orange have suffered for it.

But what makes this latest failure all the more maddening was that in granting the $3,500 to PAPA the city council ignored not only ground rules it had set down (that such requests go through a special screening committee) but it failed to listen to the logic of the two council members who voted against the idea. Councilman Don Smith told the council he didn't like someone just walking in and asking for money (PAPA wanted $8,000) before he even knew how much was being requested and he objected to doling out taxpayers money in such a manner.

Councilman Bob Hoyt, a banker, presented an even more logical argument based on his experience. Such a loan request from a bank would be turned down, he said, because it is such a high risk.

But instead of logic and sound decision-making prevailing that night, emotion won out and Orange taxpayers lost out.

We pointed out last April that the Orange Daily News is not against community theater in Orange. But we also pointed out that The Playhouse is not the place for community theater in Orange. If one looks at the histories of community theaters in other cities it is almost always a group of citizens banning together to put on plays for their own pleasure and for the benefit of the community. They don't demand salaries for proprietors and create acting schools. They're volunteer efforts made by interesting citizens willing to use the community theater as after work recreation and who are willing to put in the work involved because it is a labor of love. And they don't set out to establish their headquarters in a fully-equipped theater with rent payments they can't afford.

Orange, on the other hand, seems to want to make the jump from a city with no community theater to a community with a full-scale production company providing nothing but major productions.

By now it should be obvious to everyone concerned that this is not about to happen in this city. We would strongly recommend to the city council the next time it receives demands that it provide the money and facilities for a theater company to establish itself in Orange, that it recalls that Orange and its residents have been taken for rides on this matter twice before.


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