Should Sacramento Create a “Performing Arts Museum”? — An Exploratory Study by Janice Kelly

Sacramento has a rich history of community theater dating back to the original Eagle Theater during the earliest days of the gold rush of 1849. However, a recent study by Janice Kelly is revealing. Do we in the region value this history? Do we really remember “live theater”, the performers, the many theater groups and actual stages ? Kelly has interviewed local leaders in the arts community and compiled a 20 page exploratory paper. Her findings call into question our commitment to “remembering”. To quote Kelly from the paper:

I have been advised that no group or venue to date is telling either an integrated or “big picture” history of Sacramento region’s performing arts. What the community knows, if anything, is told in fragments, possibly through a single local radio interview or an isolated feature article in the Sacramento Bee or not at all.

“The single greatest concern appeared to be that more veteran performers could die before they get an opportunity to share their historical perspectives. As a result, primary sources for Sacramento and regional theater will be lost. The stories that celebrate and create awareness of the region’s performing arts heritage remain hidden and untold. Opportunities for research, re-creation, public exhibitions, lectures, education and play continue to be unavailable. Therefore, the purpose
of this exploratory study (also referred to as the Visioning Process) was to:

·      Identify the interest and need for establishing either a site or vehicle to preserve a collection of artifacts and/or oral histories for community, education and scholarly use.

·      Identify the potential feasibility of developing such a project.

·      Discuss planning objectives, strategies and actions to move the concept from a vision to the next stage in its development.”

To read the entire document
, go to, look to the left of the page under “What’s New” and let us know what you think. Perhaps “museum” is the wrong word.

Theater performances are living creations, shared as an intimate moment between those on the stage and those in the audience. “Artifacts and props” don’t capture the performance, the dedication, and that special “connection” between the artist and audience. But recordings of these performances, interviews with the participants, and posting these remembrances on-line would be a step in the right direction – don’t you think? Let us know.

*Story written by Ron Cooper – Please send thoughts and ideas via e-mail to