The Old Creamery Theatre Company is a not-for-profit professional theatre founded in 1971 in Garrison, Iowa. Ten theatre colleagues formed the company in a vacant building that had once served the community of Garrison as a co-op dairy – hence the name. In 1988, at the invitation of The Amana Society, The Old Creamery Theatre Company opened its first season in Amana.
Since its founding, the company has been dedicated to performing high-quality, live professional theatre for audiences of all ages and interests, and offers a wide variety of plays each season. The Old Creamery is proud to be the oldest professional theatre company in the state of Iowa.
A Look Back Over 40 Years
1970 - An article appeared in the Des Moines Register describing the
growing arts community in Garrison, Iowa, and the hope of the artists
that there would soon be a live theatre there.
1971 - The Old Creamery Theatre company was founded as a non-profit arts organization by Thomas P. Johnson and nine theatre colleagues in an old creamery building in Garrison, Iowa. The group was determined to bring high-quality live theatre to Iowans, particularly those in rural communities where there was little exposure to professional theatre. The company's very first show was SPOON RIVER ANTHOLOGY, and the first production was offered on tour to citizens of Iowa.
1972 - The company's first performing space opens in an abandoned
creamery building with a production of TWO FRENCH FARCES. Renovation
of the building continues for the next 23 years. Martha-Ellen Tye of
Marshalltown provides funds to purchase a touring bus. This was the
first of a series of significant annual contributions that helped to
sustain The Company through its entire history.
1973 - The company opens its first season on the Clinton Showboat,
where the company performed for a total of six seasons.
1975 - The annual operating budget surpassed the $100,000 mark.
1976 - The company performs in over 200 communities in Iowa and the
Midwest with a grant from the Iowa Bicentennial Commission.
1977 - The company offers its first season at Dubuque's Five Flags Theatre.
1979 - The company opens its first studio theatre at the former
Garrison Elementary School building.
1980 - The company receives The Governor's Distinguished Service Award
for service to the state of Iowa and a $70,000 two-year grant from The
Joyce Foundation of Chicago.
1981 - The company celebrates its 10th birthday party.
1983 - The company, dependent on the farm economy, is adversely
effected by the farm crisis in Iowa.
1985 - The company narrowly avoids bankruptcy and begins a recovery
from a debt of over $300,000.
1986 - The theatre receives an $85,000 Advancement Grant from the
National Endowment for the Arts for artistic excellence.
1988 - At the invitation of The Amana Society, the theatre opens its
first season at the welcome center in Amana.
1991 - The company celebrates its 20th birthday party.
1992 - The first "Cowchip Jamboree" performs in Garrison Courtyard.
1996 - The company celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Garrison
performance space closed.
1998 - The company celebrates its 10th year in Amana.
2000 - The Company performs its 30th Anniversary children's tour, GRAB
'EM BY THE TALE! throughout the state of Iowa. The recovery from the
financial crisis of 1985 is finally complete.
2001 - The company celebrates its 30th anniversary.
2002 - The Studio stage opens at old Amana train depot.
2004 - The company purchases a home in West Amana to house visiting
artists and interns.
2007 - The Camp Creamery program makes its debut.
2008 - Theatre for Young Audiences comes to the Main Stage for the first time.
-The Depot Stage closes as a result of the 2008 floods and the Studio Series is temporarily moved to the Ox Yoke Inn's basement.
-The Old Creamery celebrates 20 years of performing in Amana.
2009 - The Old Creamery is awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts as part of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
2010 - New Studio Stage opens at the former Amana Middle School.
2011 - The Old Creamery celebrates its 40th anniversary.
2012 - The Main Stage Lobby gets renovated. Purchased a new lighting system with the help of the Iowa County Community Foundation.
2013 - Patched our parking lot and put a new roof on the Old Creamery Theatre, with the help of the Iowa County Community Foundation.
2014 - Launched a new website and updated our logo.
- Remodeled for Handicap accessibility
- Major overhaul of the theatre's sound system with the help of the Iowa County Community Foundation.
2015 - New Curtain and Mid-Stage traveler funded for by Iowa County Community Foundation and the Slushers.
2016 - 45 Year Anniversary of the Old Creamery Theatre and the Theatre for Young Audiences School Tour. 25 year anniversary of our writing contest and 10 year anniversary of Camp Creamery!