To underline what fellow MDJ columnist Pete Borden said recently, I don’t want to go to the theater to be lectured on social issues and to have to pay for the privilege; I want to be entertained.
I am not entertained when I have to sit through three hours of some snob telling me what is wrong with the world. Let him tell other snobs. I’ll stay home and watch reruns of “Andy Griffith.”
I was glad to see that the City of Marietta has given Theater in the Square $30,000, which Mayor Tumlin said would show that the city wants the theater viable and remaining in downtown Marietta. According to City Manager Bill Bruton, the $30,000 comes from the city’s auto rental tax.
There is much yet to be done. Mike Russell, who chairs the theater’s board, said he needs nearly $100,000 to keep the doors open and an additional $400,000 by June 30 as Theater in the Square heads into its 31st season. It is obvious the theater has a long way to go.
Applause! Applause! (That’s theater talk) to landlord Philip Goldstein, who has renegotiated the theater’s lease to ease some of the immediate financial burden. Goldstein is owed about $125,000 in back rent, taxes and other expenses.
“My goal is to see them stand on their own two feet and be stable going forward,” Goldstein told the MDJ. Good for him.
He didn’t have to do that, you know.
Someone else who was happy to hear the news was Donna Krueger, owner of dk Gallery on the Square and the president of Branding Project, a group of local businesses who are working hard to promote doing business in Historic Downtown Marietta, defined as Glover Park and a three-block radius in all directions.
“Theatre in the Square is critical to our area,” she says, “and they seem to be trying to get it right.” The theater is clearly an important component of Marietta. Russell told the city council that Theatre in the Square had an economic impact of more than $1 million last year.
In the meantime, the Branding Project rolls merrily along, thanks to the hard work and enthusiasm of Ms. Krueger and her colleagues in the area.
“We have had three people stop by the gallery in the past few days,” she says, “admiring what Marietta is doing in the arts. One was an artist from Nashville who thinks this is a great place for artists to locate. Another was a record producer who said he had heard there are ‘cool things’ going on here and is looking for studio space.”
Krueger said that organizers of the Castleberry Hill Art Walk in West Atlanta came by to inquire about Marietta’s Art Walk. “They admire what we are doing,” Krueger said, “and wanted to see what they could learn from our experiences. Castleberry Hill is one of the finest Art Walks around. I was flattered that they feel the same about us.”
This year’s first Art Walk is April 6 and they will run until September. I am a born-again Art Walker. Last July, with fear and trembling I exhibited my paintings at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre, knowing that I would probably be critiqued by a lot of people who are very discerning on the subject of art and who probably go to the theater and pay to get lectured on social issues. What I found instead was a bunch of nice folks who said nice things about my art and made me feel good.
In addition to the Art Walk, the Artist Market will kick off April 14 and operate alongside the Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. every other Saturday on Mill Street. Artists will pay for each session in which they participate. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the Branding Project to help promote Historic Downtown Marietta.
You may already have noticed the billboards on the Interstate and around the county about coming to Marietta. Krueger says the Branding Project is about making Historic Downtown Marietta “a thriving, culturally-rich shopping and entertainment destination in metro Atlanta and beyond, daily.”
A big order but I can’t think of a better place to do this than Marietta or anyone better to drive the process than Donna Krueger.
Now, if Theatre in the Square can just get its act together.
You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.