UPDATE: The Kroc has responded to questions. Says understanding differs from social media accounts but does not say how. A lightly edited version of their statement is quoted at the bottom of this report.
Justin Fox Burks
Stage Door Productions, a 501C3 company that has hosted classes and camps and produced kid-sized Broadway musicals at the theater housed inside Memphis' Kroc Center, announced it would end operations Monday, May 13th. The announcement arrives in the wake of public allegations related to the procedural handling of a harassment complaint.
"We want each and every one of you to know how incredibly difficult this decision is to make," an email to the Legally Blonde
cast and camp attendees read. The announcement came with a charge to the company's young participants: "Feel every emotion freely, but only for one hour. After that let your anger go."
"I can confirm Stage Door Productions programming will cease on Monday, following the final performance of Legally Blonde Jr.
this Sunday," Stage Door co-founder Brandon Kelly wrote in an email. Kelly said he would consider sharing more information at a later time. "Right now, we will be focusing our love, passion, and support entirely on the kids in our final show. They are the ones most affected and need our support and complete attention."
Allegations regarding the mishandling of a harassment complaint appeared on Facebook last week. They were widely shared, generating community support and backlash. Less than a week after the original May 3rd posting, Stage Door shared a letter that appears to say there was no official knowledge of the complaint prior to the recent Facebook posting. "Since this has been brought to our attention, we have had an internal and external review done at Stage Door," the communication stated. Stage Door's Facebook page is now offline. The website is live but inactive.
The Kroc Center has not yet responded to The Flyer
's request for information. Pages related to the facilities art programs and to Lindsay and Brandon Kelly are not currently live.
According to the most recent information posted at guidestar.org, Stage Door had posted regular losses of up to $10,000 in net assets since 2015 when that value was pegged at $91,425.
Latest Update: The Kroc responds:
"For the past five years, The Salvation Army Kroc Center – Memphis has partnered with Stage Door Productions (SDP) to provide quality theatre opportunities for the youth in our area. SDP, an independent non-profit, worked to provide a meaningful arts experience for its participants. Kroc Center members valued SDP’s programming expertise and SDP valued the Kroc’s outstanding facilities.
Last week, we were made aware of a social media post with troubling accusations within SDP of sexual harassment and abuse between two underage cast members from 18 months ago. We acted immediately—launching an internal review and ensuring the incident allegation was reported to Tennessee’s Child Protective Services."
"The Salvation Army has a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of abuse or harassment. Our staff are well trained in appropriate behavior and how to spot signs of abuse in others. Though SDP is a separate entity, we hold them to the highest standards for safety and professionalism.
This post will be updated as more information becomes available.
Our understanding of events vary from those reported in social media. We are still conducting our review and will fully cooperate with the authorities in investigation. Because those referenced are minors and this is an ongoing investigation, we are unable to comment about specifics. Our prayers are with each one and we ask you to join us with your prayers.
Today, SDP announced it is ceasing programming effective Monday, May 13, 2019. While we are ending our work with SPD, the Arts remain a vital and vibrant pillar of the Kroc’s purpose. We are looking at ways to expand our existing arts education offerings. We know the value the Arts have on overall student achievement and want to do our part to build tomorrow’s leaders. We consistently look for ways to improve member experiences, program quality, and program offerings. Just as we strive to inspire excellence, so do we strive to be excellent."