Plainvie's Jon Hassler Theater prepares to close - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Plainview's Jon Hassler Theater prepares to close

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PLAINVIEW, Minn. (KTTC) -- The John Hassler Theater may soon be closing the curtain for good after the Rural America Arts Center announced it will stop producing original shows from its stage.

The theater, named after Minnesota author and former Plainview resident Jon Hassler, opened its doors in 2000.  Since then, more than 95,000 audience members have attended 62-original performances at the venue.  But declining ticket sales and other financial burdens has forced the theater to discontinue their productions.

"We felt that the professional theatre market has kind of plateaued," said Dean Harrington, CEO of Rural America Arts Partnership.  "It plateaued at a level that wasn't sufficient to make it a long term kind of professional theatre."

Now, the stage will be set for other professional theater groups to rent through the end of 2014.  Still, for local performers and theater goers the loss of venue and culture is a big one...

"We're going to miss it," said Taylor Jeppson, a student at PEM High School. "It's not going to be the same if we're stuck in a high school gym."  Jeppson and Amber Liebenow, another PEM student, have performed multiple times at the theater. 

"I always enjoy going up there and seeing the professional plays too-that's always fun," said Liebenow.

The Arts Center also houses a bookstore and art gallery which will remain open.  According to Harrington, once the theater is closed, the space may be leased to local community groups or schools.

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