Observing from beyond the solar system, a cultural outsider looks in.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Maryland Daily Record Feature on The Senator

There's a feature today in the Maryland Daily Record, which outlines the parallel but differing efforts being taken by Baltimore City and the local community as represented by The Senator Community Trust LLC. I want to bring out a couple of quotes from the article here:

At this stage, the committee is not seeking community input, said councilman and committee member Bill Henry, who represents the district in which the Senator is located.

“None of us know anything about actually running [a theater], so we’re saying let’s not focus on that right now,” Henry said. “Right now we just need to make sure we save the real estate so someone can have a crack at it.”

And then compare that to this...

Ideally, Brescia said, the trust could work out a temporary refinancing of its loan with First Mariner, then as a nonprofit immediately begin fundraising with the help of the city and state to take it off of the bank’s books.

“The idea is to get everybody off the hook,” he said. “While we’d like the city and state involved, they need to be off the hook for the long term and we can’t burden our taxpayers.”

Susan McCarter, former executive director for the League of Historic American Theaters and now a Johns Hopkins University professor, said that most historic theaters that have survived have done so as a nonprofit. But the successful ones have been a marriage between community and government ideals.

“If you involve a community in some way in maintaining the theater, it has a chance of being healthy,” she said. “I think the problem arises when people who don’t have a local stake in it are making the decisions.”

And this...

As far as the Senator Theatre is concerned, there’s no lack of community and business interest; just one of time and agreement between two groups that believe they have the property’s best interests at heart.

“There is definitely a disconnect with the city’s way of trying to figure out a solution to this problem and our thinking,” said Brescia. “It’s a good indicator of intent that they established this task force — now we’re looking to bridge the gap between the community’s idea and what the city’s exploring.”

Food for thought.

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