Around Town reported on Saturday that Theatre in the Square is in such dire financial straits that it has parted ways with managing director Raye Varney and is four months in arrears on its rent.
And now from the opposite corner of the Square comes word that the anchor tenant of the Earl Smith Strand Theatre is being courted by other communities.
Dianne Butler with the Atlanta Lyric Theatre, the professional musical theater company that holds its performances in the Strand, caught the attention of city leaders during Wednesday’s town hall meeting when she said that her company was being courted by other communities.
The Lyric is midway through year four of a five-year lease and is considering whether to remain at the Strand or head elsewhere. Butler said her group needs to know that the community wants it to remain at the Strand.
“By ‘the community’ it’s vital we have the ticket sales etc., so that people know, gosh, we appreciate exactly what we’re bringing to the community, but I also mean ‘the community’ in terms of the political powers that be,” Butler told Around Town on Monday.
“We need support from this Cobb County community and from the City of Marietta, the DMDA, they can make it a culture that is either friendly towards the arts being here or not.”
The Lyric recently asked the Downtown Marietta Development Authority for a $20,000 grant, but only received a $3,000 one. DMDA board member James Eubanks said the various cultural groups that rely on the DMDA like the Lyric need to become more independent.
The Lyric produces five Broadway-style musicals each year during its September-through-June season, with 12 performances for each production. The shows typically cost between $80,000 and $100,000 to produce. Butler said the Lyric has paid the Strand more than $700,000 to date through such things as rent, naming rights and giving $1 dollar of every ticket to the Strand’s restoration.
The Strand building and the Theatre in the Square building are owned by Councilman Philip Goldstein’s family.
The Goldstein family leased the Strand building to Friends of the Strand in May 2004, granting 10 years free rent to allow the group to renovate the building. The free rent expires Dec. 31, 2014, at which time monthly rental payments are $9,115, Goldstein told Around Town.
The Theatre in the Square owes Goldstein $10,778 per month and now is paying him week-to-week. Meanwhile, Palmer Wells, who co-founded the theater 30 years ago with the late Michael Horne, in the building that now houses the Cool Beans coffee shop on Mill Street, announced last week he would forgo a salary until the financial picture improves.
If the Lyric were to depart the Strand it obviously would blow a big-sized hole in that theater’s bottom line. And if either theater were to go dark it would be a body blow to the restaurateurs and nightspots around the Square that depend heavily on the theater-going crowd.
Most of those eateries are housed in buildings that, like the two theaters, are owned by Goldstein. Thus, he has a vested interest in maintaining the theaters’ viability, and some observers predict he may ultimately have little choice but to either forgive some of the back rent or renegotiate the lease(s) on terms more favorable to the tenant(s) — which to date, hasn’t exactly been his style.
LOCAL POLITICS: Cobb Commission Chair candidate Mike Boyce of east Cobb will kick off his campaign with an event from noon to 4 p.m. March 3 at the Paper Mill Grill. The eatery is at 305 Village Parkway in east Cobb. Music will be provided by Nick Slade and his band. Boyce is a retired Marine colonel making his first try for Cobb elective office. … Bill Byrne, another candidate for chairman, will hold a fundraiser from 5 to 7 p.m. this evening at The Cherokee Cattle Co., 2710 Canton Road. …
Marietta Ward 4 Council candidate Patti Pearlberg will host a “meet the candidate” reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Carriage Oaks Clubhouse in Marietta. She held a similar event this past Sunday at McLaren Gates. …
A fundraiser for Cobb Superior Court Judge candidate Greg Poole, currently Cobb Juvenile Judge, is slated for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 1 at The Georgian Club at the Galleria, reports spokesman Jon Hutson. Also running for that seat are State Court Judge Roland Castellanos and assistant D.A. Van Pearlberg.
Marsha Lake, a candidate for Cobb State Court judge, will hold a campaign reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. March 8 on the fourth floor Terrace Level of the Strand Theatre.
SPEAKERS: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) will be the speaker at Thursday’s meeting of the Marietta Kiwanis Club. The MKC will feature a powerhouse lineup of speakers in the next month or so, including the Senator, political pundit Matt Towery, Kennesaw State University President Dr. Dan Papp and Mercer University economist Dr. Roger Tutterow.
Meanwhile, the Kennworth Golden K Kiwanis Club will host legendary former UGA football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley at 10 a.m. March 7. Dooley has been working with KSU as chair of its Football Exploratory Committee. Also on the dais that day to give an update on KSU athletics will be new KSU athletic director Vaughn Williams. The meeting will not take place at the club’s usual location near Acworth, but at KSU instead, according to president Keith McPherson.
COUNTY GOVERNMENT civil service employees will be voting March 15 for the Post 1 seat on the Civil Service Board. On the ballot are incumbent Frank Bockman and “Bishop” Perry Price. A candidate forum will be at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Board of Commissioners Meeting Room on the second floor of the 100 Cherokee St. building.
A PAIR OF PROGRAMS are just around the corner focusing on aspects of Smyrna history. The Smyrna Historical and Genealogical Association and the Williams Park Neighbors are jointly sponsoring “Smyrna in the Era of the Great Depression,” a PowerPoint presentation narrated by retired history professor Dr. Bill Marchione of Smyrna.
The presentation is based largely on the diaries kept between 1927 and the early 1940s by Bess Terrell of Roswell Street in Smyrna, grandmother of present-day Smyrnan Nancy McGee, reports spokesman and former Smyrna Mayor Harold Smith.
Marchione’s presentation will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Smyrna Museum of History (2861 Atlanta Road) and again at 7 p.m. Feb. 29 in the Council Room of Smyrna City Hall, 2800 King St.
GEORGIA Secretary of State Brian Kemp will be speaker at Wednesday’s 11:45 a.m. meeting of the South Cobb Area Council of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce at the Coach George E. Ford Center.
IT’S A BOY for Jamie and Ryan Patrick and beaming grandparents Jean Alice and (Marietta Mayor) Stevens “Thunder” Tumlin and Marcia and Kevin Patrick of Atlanta.
Little Beck Stevens Patrick was born late Friday at Kennestone Hospital and he and his mother are now home with his two sisters. Congratulations to all the Tumlins, especially his Honor, the Mayor, who was so excited about the news that he forgot to mention the sex of the new arrival in the initial email blast he sent Saturday morning to friends and family.
The birth also marks the fourth generation of the family to use the “Stevens” name, including the mayor and his son, R. Stevens (“Ty”) Tumlin III.
The mayor’s late father, R. Stevens Tumlin Sr., co-founded Marietta Lumber in 1934 on South Cobb Drive at the Atlanta Road underpass with brothers W.L. and Sig Tumlin. All three were well in excess of 6-feet, 6-inches tall and were truthfully known as “the biggest lumber dealers in Georgia.”