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C'MON KIDS, LETS PUT ON A SHOW!! That was the common solution in many a movie musical to "save the farm" or whatever calamity was facing a group of people. Please take the time to read below and watch the videos describing the history of Performing Arts programs in Temple Terrace and how you can play a part in restoring them to the community.
Not that long ago, Temple Terrace had a thriving performing arts community with two mainstay organizations: Masque Community Theatre, and Temple Terrace Ballet. Many TTB dancers were also a part of MCT, bringing their dance expertise to the musical theatre productions, and getting opportunities to also develop and display their vocal and acting talents. The video below will illuminate the many amenities we formerly enjoyed and the many attributes that the organization brought to the families in the area and beyond.
The theatre was housed in the property on the corner of 56th St. and Chicago Ave. where the Post Office and other businesses are located next to the Winn Dixie and was donated for use by the City of Temple Terrace. Unfortunately, the city moved us out of that location for it's redevelopment project to create "Downtown Temple Terrace" with the promise of building a theatre complex in the center of the parking lot to be a new home for Masque Community Theatre and Temple Terrace Ballet. We dismantled our beloved theatre and moved to a temporary location with great anticipation for the promise of a new, even better facility which would integrate the two programs under one roof. The second video below shows our marquee sign being taken down, the facility being gutted, and our efforts to turn a much smaller venue into a temporary 'black box' theatre. Unfortunately, again, the country experienced a financial recession and the plans for a new theatre building were abandoned. The location where we had initially been granted for temporary use was also set for demolition, and we had to go to several different venues for staging our productions. Eventually it became overwhelming to keep producing shows with limited access to a venue and maintaining storage for all the theatre properties which we had attempted to keep on hand with the expectation of eventually finding a new home, and the organization was dissolved.
As a dance teacher, I have long hoped to one day have a dance studio which could also be a performing venue. To that end, I began more than twenty years ago to acquire portable stages, stage lighting, pro audio equipment, drapery, etc. to be able to create a performing venue in any space - indoors or outdoors. For many years I have been setting up theatre equipment for productions in dance studios, convention halls, etc., as well as bringing in lighting and audio equipment into many area high schools to enhance productions where the in-house lighting instruments were inadequate for a high caliber production.
About the same time I also began to invest in video production equipment - primarily to get quality video of my own dance productions, as well as to enhance my teaching income. It was in my capacity as a videographer that I first became associated with both Masque Community Theatre and Temple Terrace Ballet around 2008. Noting that the Masque productions were of high quality, but suffered from poor lighting, I offered to sell and install some of my lighting equipment at a very reasonable price. Subsequently, I was asked to serve as Vice-President on the MCT board to be a theatre manager as well as an 'in-house tech guy'. In a similar fashion, after providing video services to Temple Terrace Ballet, I was asked to teach some dance classes, then became more involved and eventually assumed directorship when the beloved founder of the program passed away unexpectedly.
When circumstances compelled us to find a new venue for our program to provide safer, more suitable accommodations conducive to proper, high level dance instruction, I saw it as an opportunity to not only offer a comprehensive dance program offering all styles of dance, but also music lessons as well as acting and stage craft. I also planned to begin having a Summer Musical Theatre Production to bring back to the community what had been the best part of Masque Theatre. The summer musicals were extremely well realized and involved many families in the area and drew talented performers from around the city as well.
It was my expectation, that with what I considered would be normal growth of the business, that I could in time expand or relocate to a venue which could serve as a theatre, dance and music studio, and more. But of course, the past few years have been anything but 'normal'. We opened in the Fall of 2019 and produced our first full-length "The Nutcracker Ballet" with rousing acclaim, and anticipation for greater things to come, only to have to shut down operations after only a few months. This of course has been emotionally soul-crushing and financially devastating, but I have remained committed and have done all I can to keep the dream alive, forgoing taking any personal teaching pay for over two years in order to pay the rent and my staff, with the hope of holding out for the world to return to normal. I certainly could not have predicted we would be affected by a world-wide pandemic and how long we would be impacted by it. I further could not have expected to face a series of calamities: a leaking roof which caused severe damage to our dance floor and continually threatened to subject our students to risk of injury; A/C units which did not function correctly and eventually caused a fire; and most of all - an unscrupulous landlord who delayed making repairs to the A/Cs and now refuses to restore the floor to the condition that I had worked so hard to recondition when I first took possession of the premises. It has been a challenge for the past two years to caution students and restrict use in areas which could facilitate injuries. The safety of my students will always come first, followed closely by my commitment to exemplary instruction in the arts. It is for those reasons that I boldly set forth to create The Performing Arts Academy of Temple Terrace as the home of a re-imagined Temple Terrace Ballet and eventually a resurrected Masque Community Theatre.
I knew it would take time for people to again feel comfortable returning to group activities, and many would also continue to be impacted financially as well. I am extremely thankful for those families who were the first to return to classes, either wearing masks in classes or 'Zooming' from home, and I am particularly indebted to those who have 'hung in there' with us for the duration. I am especially appreciative to the new students who have joined us in recent months and finally feel like we can begin to see 'light at the end of the tunnel'. But we are still a long way from being 'out of the woods', and I hope not only to continue with the growth we are now experiencing, and hope to also find families that can 'dream with me' and help to re-create the thriving arts scene that was previously so vital to this community and its families.
I already have most of the items needed for a theatre including: stages; lighting and audio equipment; drapery; sets; scenery; backdrops; an extensive collection of props and costumes; and more.
I only need two more things: a new venue and YOU!!
Please click here to learn how you can help to BRING BACK THE MASQUE!!
Check out this great video of our former home and the value it brought to the community and families in Temple Terrace.
It was sad to see our sign come down and the theatre gutted, but we moved to a temporary locale with hope for the future.
Wonderful pics from many Masque productions.
Membership gives you free auditions and enrollment in Classes, Camps, and Musical Theatre productions.
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Click Here To Register - Set up your account (if you do not already have an existing account), then enroll yourself or family member as a student. When prompted to select a class, go to either the Winter/Spring or Summer 2023 Class Schedule and select "Masque Membership". (It's on the Sunday line-up to locate it easily).
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Participating in programs helps our program grow along with our hopes of finding a home for our theatre.
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It's always a welcome blessing to have individuals and organizations come forward with large contributions of funds. We intend to apply for matching grants to boost our efforts and hope to build up a sizable balance in anticipation.
Help us find a location.
We are reaching out to get help finding a commercial property with an existing office or warehouse space suitable for repurposing for performing arts instruction and theatrical productions, or vacant property ready for development. It would be amazing if we could get an arrangement to secure an affordable venue through, generous pricing, businesses sharing the venue, theatre rental income, etc.
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Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals and improve conditions. Your generous donation will fund our mission.