I see (via, oh, EVERYONE) that Eric Kerchner responded to my letter to the Englert. Here's the response I'm sending back.
Oooh. Electronic dueling! Isn't it fun?
To The Editor
I don’t care to get into a feud with Eric Kerchner on the letters page of the Press Citizen. Indeed, I wouldn’t be responding to Mr. Kerchner’s response to my letter if it weren’t for several factors. First, I find it interesting that Mr. Kerchner chose to say I was misinformed about the Englert. That’s interesting to me because I was part of the group of people working to buy and renovate the Englert before the theatre closed. It’s interesting to me because I was an original member of the Englert Board of Directors and also the first Secretary of the Englert Board of Directors. I venture that I’m in a far better position to speak to the original purpose of our efforts than Mr. Kerchner.
But don’t take my word for it. Here’s the mission statement from the Englert Web site:
The mission of the Englert Civic Theatre, Inc. is to own, maintain and operate the Englert Theatre as a community arts center and performance space, enhancing the vitality of Iowa City's historic downtown by preserving its last historic theater.
The Englert Civic Theatre, Inc. will provide diverse programming, educational opportunities, and exposure to the performing and visual arts. Our focus will be to highlight the talents of local performers, artists, and ensembles. (emphasis added)
Second, Mr. Kerchner has completely avoided the topic of my letter. I never said that I have any qualms with Leo Kottke (or any other touring artist) performing at the Englert. And I would have had no qualms with Mr. Kerchner stating that the Englert was the perfect venue for a performer like Mr. Kottke. My concerns lies with his statement that Mr. Kottke was the “perfect show” for the Englert. To me, that statement shows either a complete misunderstanding of the reasons we began the effort to save the Englert or a complete disregard for those reasons. Sadly, I think it’s more the latter than the former. It’s hard to tell, though, because Mr. Kerchner doesn’t address those concerns in his response.
Mr. Kerchner’s statements, and the events he has booked, indicate that his vision of what the Englert should be is completely at odds with the original vision of a community arts center and performance space. That may be all well and good – that original vision may not be a tenable foundation for a successful theatre. But his vision is also at odds with the vision we presented to the Iowa City City Council when we asked the council to purchase the facility. It’s at odds with the vision the Englert Board presented to the Internal Revenue Service to obtain non-profit status. It’s at odds with the vision we on the Englert Board presented to the state of Iowa to obtain the CAT grant. And it’s at odds to the vision we presented to the people of Iowa City to obtain their time and money. As such, it would seem that the current Englert Board of Directors would at least want to make an effort towards fulfilling that original vision before abandoning it for Mr. Kerchner’s vision of a “Little Hancher in Downtown Iowa City”. After all, abandoning that vision means abandoning the many people who shared that vision, and if the Englert chooses to abandon them, will it be any surprise if they in return choose to abandon the Englert?
Past President, Iowa City Community Theatre
Past Secretary, Englert Civic Theatre Board of Directors