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Theatre Groups Clash at Hearings On Arts Center

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The Metropolitan Boston Arts Center (MeBAC) indicated yesterday that the Cambridge Drama Festival, a local theatre company, would be given exclusive use of the projected new theatre on Soldiers Field Road during its first season.

In reply, the Group 20 Players, a Wellesley drama organization which has requested an equal share of the theatre's facilities, charged MeBAC with unfair discrimination. Alan Tepper, the group's lawyer, argued that proposed state aid to the Arts Center would amount to a "full subsidy" to the Cambridge Drama Festival, "which may well put a theatre of our sort of out business."

At a public hearing before the Metropolitan District Commission, Perry Rathbone, chairman of MeBAC, claimed that the Cambridge Drama Festival "is the one theatre equipped to carry on a repertory program at this time."

Group 20 representatives contended that its artistic standing is just as high as that of the CDF and that financially it has begun to make a profit while the CDF suffered a major loss in its last season. The MeBAC board, three of whose nine members are officials of the CDF, is "stacked" against Group 20, Tepper said.

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