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Off Center...

Theatre a huge community issue

December 1, 2012
By Chris Bieri Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

Having a theatre can be a bellwether for a town.

If you find a small community with a theatre, it probably also means you'll find other interesting things and people in the town.

It is a common meeting place and gives residents a measure of relief and escape after a hard week's work.

That is why so many people turned out this week for a meeting to help save Rugby's Centre Cinema.

I've talked to a lot of friends and family about the situation with Rugby's theatre.

It's a prototypical small-town dilemma.

For a town Rugby's size, it's virtually impossible to make a theatre work as a business venture.

That's been proven statewide as virtually no other town of a similar size has a theatre that is privately owned.

So the question is, how much does it mean to the community?

It's a question that goes for a lot of amenities that are a normal part of big-city life, but may or may not be part of what's available in smaller towns.

For some small communities it's a bowling alley, for others it's a swimming pool. Different towns put priorities on different things depending on their interests.

But it was very obvious by the turnout and the passion of those who did attend that the Centre Cinema will remain a part of life in Rugby.

The question now appears to be how is that going to be done? Other communities of this size and smaller have managed to hang on to theatres using a variety of methods.

So what method will be best for Rugby?

After doing some interviews this week, I found out that Cavalier's theatre was about to shut down because the owner can't afford the upgrade to digital equipment. Without the digital equipment there won't be any more movies available to show as the industry is moving almost completely away from the old film processes.

That town's theatre will continue to be owned and operated independently. I have to say I don't envy a person trying to run a small-town theatre.

You have virtually committed every weekend of the year to working and showing movies.

If you want to go to an NFL football game or a vacation with your family, you'd would likely have to shut down the theatre for the weekend to do so.

Which is why maybe a model more like Harvey's is what Rugby will select to keep its theatre open.

The Central Cinema building is owned by the city and run by a nonprofit with volunteers doing most of the work.

But as at least one of the people at the public meeting for Rugby's theatre asked, "What is everyone willing to do?"

It seems like the consensus is that keeping the theatre is a necessity, but that still leaves two big questions to be answered in the next month: who? and how?

 
 

 

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