The Majestic Theatre’s long and storied history has in recent years been rife with mismanagement, power struggles, poor communication, and fear, but all that appears to be changing. Corvallis Parks and Rec has resumed control of the Majestic, and has brought on a new theater supervisor, Jimbo Ivy. And yes, that really is his name, thank you.
Ivy resonates as a breath of fresh air after all the strife of the last few years. A giant of a man physically, his presence is disarmingly ebullient, open, and confidence inspiring. Ivy is by some accounts a newbie to Corvallis, but he did do a stint here locally some years back that includes time as a reporter at The Alchemist among other endeavors in the creative community.
Importantly, he holds no agenda as concerns theater groups past or present. He said his ultimate goal is to cultivate an open forum community where the Majestic can be a stage for all of the creative energy in Corvallis. His eagerness borders on the idealistic, but he is genuine.
Hailing from Manhattan—the one in Kansas—Ivy’s resume is full of theater tech jobs, indie journalism, playwriting, and sound production. In college, he studied theater tech, playwriting, English, and did sound production for a touring band of country musicians.
In general, Ivy prefers to be backstage, behind the curtain enabling creativity, which is perfect for the job he has just assumed.. He doesn’t seem the type to demand creative control, instead preferring to encourage actors, dancers, and artists while he sets the stage, so to speak.
Ivy’s experience as the newly elected theater supervisor thus far has been positive. He has received nothing but support from the arts community in Corvallis, and he believes that Corvallis craves a functional Majestic. He intends, through what he calls “transparency of service,” to get more people into the theater and to widen the scope of performances and art at the Majestic. Ivy plans to book comedians, a beer and wine expo, dance, and do more than two shows a year. We are talking big plans here.
Somewhat of a hybrid has been developed to keep the theater financed. The annual budget is relatively small at $10,000 a year compared to the theater’s annual $500,000 budget. Advertising, sponsorship, and donations to the newly founded non-profit Friends of the Majestic will help close that financial gap. As a non-profit with an independent board of directors, funding for necessary expenses can be more responsively decided than would be the case for a structure that is completely city-run.
Corvallis Parks and Recreation Director Karen Emery said that Jimbo Ivy “is the ideal person for this dynamic position because of his past work history with performing arts for a Parks and Recreation Department in Kansas, his proven entrepreneurial skills, his value of resident volunteering, his knowledge of the municipal budget process, his operational knowledge of theaters, and his strong communication skills.”
Several public forums have been scheduled; the first one focused on live music went well. From my perspective, it seemed like people were cautious, but interested in hearing what Ivy had to say. There were concerns about rental costs, but overall, they were receptive to Ivy’s proposed changes, and Ivy stayed on message, even in the face of somewhat harsh criticism.
He said that he feels that the forums in general are productive and that he is connecting with the community, enacting their suggestions, and allaying their fears.
Former Majestic Theater Management board president Laurie Zink hailed Ivy as an excellent choice for the Majestic, and only wished he had been in his position a few years earlier. Zink said that Ivy “knows what he is doing, and has been able to take off from day one. I don’t know how they could have come up with a better choice.” She cautioned that there will be realities Ivy will encounter, but the fact that he is speaking to so many people in public forums and private meetings will hopefully prevent serious difficulties from arising.
Ivy encourages suggestions and communication and invites you to email him at Jimbo@majestic.org. He is also hosting public forums at the theater; the schedule is on their Facebook page.
By Rachel Sandstrom