Blog Post #5: Our History: The First Ever Municipal Stock Company - ACADEMY OF MUSIC

Historic Drawing

By Executive Director Debra J’Anthony

The Academy continued to re-evaluate its business model and offerings and in 1912, they organized the first municipal stock company in the nation, referring to it as “our municipal experiment.”   A different show was staged each week, allowing for eight performances.  After two seasons, financial woes began to concern community members and a meeting was called to discuss what action should be taken. Below are excerpts from a Gazette article, dated January 10, 1914:

“Citizens came nearer knowing what was going on at the Academy of Music than they had yet been able to and there was a pretty thorough ventilation of views, though one aspect of the matter was not opened up. This was whether, having come so near failure with our municipal stock company giving the same plays an entire week, our public had not grown tired of it, was perhaps too small to sustain such a scheme, and whether a return to a business management, which would bring us stellar attractions during the season, along with the general run of performances might not make both ends meet and provide more pleasure if not more uplift.  This aspect of the matter was not touched upon. Seemingly the duty of the hour was to continue the present regime at whatever cost.

“The action taken was a vote to authorize the chairman to appoint a committee of citizens to co-operate with the executive committee of the board of trade in the execution of a plan for financial support.

“Rev. Gerald Stanley Lee said that it had become plainly apparent that we want a stock company and that we would like a larger selection of plays. He was glad to see people get together even to disagree so spiritedly as was manifested by the discussion. He believed it to be possible to make this a literally municipal theater and a big thing. Dr. Smith move the appointment with the executive committee of the board of trade in carrying out the plan which was proposed.”

Valley residents have been committed to the performing arts for 122 years!

Help restore the Academy! We’re replacing the seats in the auditorium, repairing and repainting the ornate plaster, insulating and replacing the stage roof, and adding aisle lighting. Learn more.