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Joffrey and the Auditorium

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To the editor:

Last week's piece by Lewis Lazare about the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and the Auditorium Theatre was terribly misleading [October 8]. The Auditorium Theatre Council's mission and obligation to the public is the stewardship of the Adler and Sullivan jewel, the Auditorium Theatre. In July 1998 we increased the historic-restoration fee to $2 per ticket to bring us in line with the fees charged at other historic theaters across the country. All were notified of the increase. Joffrey Ballet of Chicago apparently chose not to pass the increase on to their patrons. That was their choice.

Under no circumstances are monies from those fees used for anything other than restoration. I never suggested anything to the contrary to Lewis Lazare. Monies for theater restoration would never be diverted to other purposes. In fact, we instituted the unfortunate current lawsuit with Roosevelt University to prevent diversion of $1,500,000 to nontheater purposes. Mr. Lazare also knew well that we have had a $250,000 restoration project under way this past summer and that work will be continuing when the theater is not in use. Of course we're not doing work now, during the Joffrey's fall engagement.

Incidentally, despite Mr. Lazare's contrary suggestions, the theater is well booked into the 2000-2001 season, our new "Ovations!" series is being enthusiastically received, and our box office is running well.

David Smerling

Chairman

Auditorium Theatre Council

Lewis Lazare replies:

The question at hand is when the Joffrey was informed of the restoration fee increase. The Joffrey is paying out-of-pocket the fee on tickets sold before late spring of this year. Is that a matter of choice? Both David Smerling and Joffrey executive director Jack Lemmon recollect meeting to discuss the increase in late spring of this year, after which the Joffrey began collecting the fee from ticket buyers.

I had no previous knowledge of a $250,000 restoration project, nor did Smerling mention such a project when I asked him if any work was in progress. As I said in my column, "He stopped short of confirming that the restoration fee might be used to cover operating expenses, but he did indicate that monies could be temporarily diverted from one fund to another if the need arose."

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