In the latest move prompted by the strict cap on defense spending, the Army is planning to eliminate its community theater program in Europe starting in fiscal 2017.
About nine theaters, including those in Stuttgart, Kaiserslautern and Baumholder in Germany; Vicenza in Italy; and Mons in Belgium are expected to close. The theater program cost $1.96 million last year.
In response to budget cuts in FY 2017, Installation Management Command (IMCOM), like the rest of the Army, had “to make some tough — and potentially unpopular — decisions as we work to separate wants from needs,” agency spokesman Scott Malcom told Stars and Stripes.
“Our intent is to use our limited funds to provide critical base operating services and sustain the infrastructure that makes the Army ready,” Malcom said. “Is quality of life a child development center or a community theater? Are we in the humanities business or are we in the warfighting business?” he said.
One or two theaters could survive since individual garrisons can choose to fund the program in different ways, Dane Winters, IMCOM-Europe’s entertainment director, wrote on the Baumholder Hilltop Theater’s Facebook page.
Supporters of the theater program say the performing arts are a vital part of military quality of life as they reduce isolation and stress, and foster close host-nation relations, according to the story.