The Schwartz going under has resulted in a teacher getting laid off, plus arts organizations being left without a home.
The recent loss of Dover’s only historic theater has left some Kent County arts organizations without a home to host events.
The Schwartz Center for the Arts closed its doors on June 30, citing financial difficulties.
Michele Xiques, director of Delaware Dance Alliance in Milford, has held eight shows at the Schwartz since 2012. The latest was the spring production “Hansel and Gretel Ballet,” based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale.
“I was heartbroken. It just seems like the arts never gets the support it deserves,” Xiques said.
Dancer Hailey Gamp, 12, said it won’t be the same.
“[It’s] sad, because that was a real theater we danced at,” said Gamp, who last performed there in the spring. “In a real theater, I think you feel like you can do a little bit more, because when you’re in a school you have to be very strict about where you are [on stage]. But in the Schwartz Center you can go a little bit everywhere.”
The dance company produces at least two shows per year, with their spring production typically at the Schwartz. The other is usually held at a high school in Kent or Sussex county.
Xiques expects to find a new location for her 2018 spring show. She said she’s looking at Polytech High School, Central Middle School and Milford High School.
The dance director said the two biggest issues with trying to get on a school calendar are that “their own people within the district get first dibs” and “it can cost a couple of grand.”
She said her rental at the Schwartz was much less than what other area venues were charging.
Young performers felt ‘privileged’
Youth in The Children’s Theatre Inc. are in the same predicament as Xiques and her dancers.
Sharon Crossen, board member and past president of the Children’s Theatre, said they’re considering churches and schools for their upcoming shows.
“It is sad, indeed, to see that the Schwartz is closing this magnificent venue, which The Children’s Theatre Inc. has called home for so many years,” Crossen said.
“Our kids feel so privileged to perform on this beautiful, historic stage in a refurbished opera house and movie theater. We couldn’t have asked for a better place.”
The Children’s Theatre had been partners with the Schwartz for more than a decade. Their next production is the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” in November.
High school on the hunt
St. Thomas More Academy is one of the only high schools in the county without an auditorium. The school relied on the Schwartz the past 12 years to host some of their shows.
“I’m upset for our kids who really connected with the space,” said St. Thomas More principal Rachael Casey.
She said the school’s list of prospects for hosting drama productions includes the Holy Cross School, which has a renovated parish hall.
“It’s set up for performances, not quite to the scale the Schwartz Center was,” Casey said. “It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but it is a space where we can interact with a local community outside, specifically, our school.”
St. Thomas More averages three dramas annually and would typically host two (winter and spring) shows at the Schwartz.
Their fall production is usually held in the school’s refectory, a multi-purpose space. Casey said their drama club, the Midnight Dreary Players, can continue to use the refectory for at least one show per year, as it’s served them previously.
Delaware Dance director Xiques said losing the Schwartz raises a major question she’s still trying to answer: “What’s it going to take to get people out of their homes and see live entertainment?”