Theatre on the Square partners with CICF to help keep culture in Mass. Ave. Cultural District

Plan includes brief hiatus for popular arts venue

Theatre on the Square (TOTS) has been a nearly 30-year mainstay in the Indianapolis arts community and an important hub of the Massachusetts Avenue cultural scene since 1993, when it relocated from Fountain Square. Recently, the organization has been challenged by the need for costly building repairs and other issues that threaten its survival. TOTS announced today that it is partnering with Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) and other community partners to create a plan for the venue’s long-term sustainability. The plan will include a hiatus from September through the end of the year.

Roger Schmelzer, TOTS board president, says the organization’s goal is to ensure a long-term future for live theater on Mass. Ave. Calling the theater’s patrons and artists its “greatest asset,” Schmelzer offered, “We are optimistic about the future. This is not the end of theater at 627 Mass Ave; this is merely the end of Act One.”

Brian Payne, CICF president and CEO, says that TOTS is an important part of the Indianapolis theater and arts scene. Not only that, but it is imperative that the city preserve the diversity of offerings in one of downtown’s most popular districts.

“Restaurants, theaters, art galleries and boutiques—their economic health is interdependent,” Payne says. Spaces like Mass. Ave., where the community can enjoy great food and experience great art and culture, help attract, develop and retain highly-educated, creative, entrepreneurial and community-minded citizens. That is important to us, because it is important to Central Indiana.”

Theatre on the Square originally opened in 1988 in Fountain Square. Since then, it has produced more than 250 plays and musicals, and participates as a venue and producer for Indianapolis Fringe Festival. For updates on future plans, follow the theatre at

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