CH Players asks for change to facility use fees at MHS

Charlie Koenig - Posted on Mar 19, 2014 - 02:32 PM

Mathews School Board members received a request Tuesday night from a representative of the Court House Players to do something about the fees it charges to use the Mathews High School auditorium.

“I’m just here to plead for community theater,” said Meryl Lusher Clark during the public comment period at the start of Tuesday’s meeting, which was held in the MHS media center.

Holding a play or musical at MHS has become cost prohibitive for the volunteer theater group, Clark said. The rental costs have jumped from $1,385 in 2009 to $3,570 this year, she said. The fees have also made it unaffordable for the Missoula Children’s Theatre to hold its weeklong performing arts camp at MHS for the past two years, she said.

The Court House Players, both as a group and individually, made large contributions to the MHS auditorium when it was built 13 years ago with the understanding that the school division would work to ensure that fees remained reasonable for the group’s use of the facility, Clark said. “We should have had a grandfather clause.”

“These buildings are community buildings,” said school board member Jen Little. “I don’t know what the magic number is (as far as fees are concerned, but) … something needs to be worked out,” she said.

Fellow board member Linda Hodges, who identified herself as a member of the Court House Players, said it was “a pretty widespread understanding” that when the Harry M. Ward Auditorium was built, the Court House Players would use the facility “collaboratively” with the school division.