SHARECOMMENTMORE

By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - For more than two decades, the Black Repertory Theater has been part of the cultural fabric of the St. Louis arts district in Grand Center.

But that all changed last week when the Rep's founder was emailed that the Grandel Theater had been sold.

With the acclaimed troupe now homeless, New Jewish Theater, part of the Jewish Community Center, has reached out to offer space for at least one show, maybe more.

"When we heard about it on the news we really wanted to help. We understand there is a need and if we could help we would love to," said JCC CEO Lynn Wittels.

New Line's Artistic director, Kathleen Sitzer actually worked for the founder of the Black Rep 25 years ago.

"I was appalled at the thought of the Black Rep losing its home, losing any theater in town is a tragedy," she said.

Himes has grown the Black Rep into one of the largest most successful African American theaters in the nation. The Rep's story line also transcended border lines.

"You could come here and someone from deep inside North St. Louis could be sitting next to Emmy Pulitzer," said Himes.

Since other theaters in town have full seasons already scheduled, the most he can hope for is to put a schedule together piece-meal using several venues. Besides the JCC, he's also talking to the people who run Washington Universities Edison Theater, and Forest Park Community College's theater.

"When corporations and companies are recruiting, they talk about the cultural fabric of this community and we are one of the vital threads of that fabric," he said.

Advertising executive Tom Townsend with Rodger's Townsend agrees and is highly critical of what he says is a lack of community support.

"Where is the well of support that came to the rescue of the symphony? Where is the spring of support that came to the rescue of Circus Flora? We as a city embraced these things but we have a hard time putting our money where our mouth is," said Townsend.

While it's the end of the Rep's time in the Grandel Theater, Himes vows it is not the end of the Black Rep.

The buyer of the Grandel remains a secret, at least for now.

Even on Broadway, recent numbers show attendance in down.

Himes volunteered that the Black Rep was two years behind on its rent, about $100,000.