Theatre on the Square Partners with Central Indiana Community Foundation 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 in August 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 temporary hiatus.

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.

What’s next for Theatre on the Square?

On Nov. 1, 2017, CICF assumed ownership of the building at 627 Massachusetts Ave. CICF intends to serve in an intermediary capacity and will provide visioning direction and oversight of the building. To accomplish this, CICF has established a not-for-profit supporting organization that is governed by a new not-for-profit board appointed by CICF.  The new board is currently accepting proposals submissions for a qualified and experienced theater operations manager for a two-year contact.

Those interested in submitting a proposal to serve as a theatre operations manager for the building should contact Joanna Nixon at joanna@joannanixon.comApplications are due no later than March 19, 2018 at 4:00pm EST.


QUESTIONS should be directed to Joanna Nixon at


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