Thesis Title

Theatre As A Civic Rejuvenator: How The Vandivort Center Theatre Affects Business And Culture In Springfield, Missouri


Kevin Jones

Date of Graduation

Summer 2002


Master of Arts in Theatre


Theatre and Dance

Committee Chair

Michael Mauldin

Subject Categories

Theatre and Performance Studies


The performing arts have revitalized downtown areas of many American cities, and have been beneficial to economic stimulus. This thesis examines how the Vandivort Center Theatre Company in Springfield, Missouri affects the economic base of business in its vicinity and how it promotes similar types of culture in the area due to management, choice of productions, and staging. Since Louis H. Schaeffer formed the Vandivort Center Theatre company in 1995, the space within the 1906 Masonic Temple building in downtown Springfield has provided local performing arts practitioners space to explore their crafts. Prior to 1995, The Vandivort Center served as an alternative stage for many arts organizations. This thesis includes a history of the building and origins of the Vandivort Center Theatre company in relation to impact upon other theaters and downtown businesses. Models from cities that have used arts to improve their economies and to forge a cultural identity are provided to support Springfield growth. The influence of the for-profit Vandivort Center Theatre upon the non-profit Springfield Little Theatre, Stained Glass Theatre and others as well as impact upon local colleges has been limited. The economic influence of the arts upon downtown Springfield is being researched through studies by the city of Springfield and the Springfield Regional Arts Council for release in late 2002. According to many downtown businesses, the Vandivort Center Theatre has had a small economic impact, but the establishment of the arts and entertainment district is due in part by the monetary success and audience totals of several VCT productions since 1995. Additionally, the Vandivort Center Theatre has provided a space for plays that might not have been shown. Possible collaboration between the Vandivort Center Theatre and the community could be influenced by the model cities outlines in this study.


© Kevin Jones