Can We Stop Now? Please?

19Jan14
Theater Plan

Theater Plan

“…we believe that in these economic times it will be very difficult to raise the funds in the short term to pursue ACG’s vision of a multi-purpose theatre facility. At the present time there is little, if any, interest in pursuing the theatre renovation…” and “…A new theatre, no matter how large or small, cannot exist without a donor base to make it financially viable…” http://www.stratfordstar.com/15982/shakespeare-theatre-task-force-says-no-to-major-renovation-yes-to-continuing-outdoors/

It is quite clear that the highly taxed residents of Stratford have little or no interest in spending any more of their hard earned income on this theater. In fact, that has been the case since this theater opened. It is time that we admit that Andy Hardy is not going to put on a show that will save the day. Promises of marginally increased traffic and perhaps a few extra dollars of pizza and sandwich sales are not going to be enough to convince any voter that their tax bill should go up even more than it inevitably does.

Unless some private entity comes along with a very large check and an actual account with sufficient funds to cover it, let’s all agree to let the ghosts of past performances rest in peace.

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18 Responses to “Can We Stop Now? Please?”

  1. 1 mikereynolds

    There is no way that Matt Catalano and his theater minions are going to accept the conclusions of that report.

  2. 2 jezebel282

    Mike,

    Mr. Catalano will have the same process to go through as everyone else. Let’s see, first there’s Denial, then Anger, then Bargaining…….

    It has been 30 years and despite throwing the ball around and playing “Who Owns It”, no one has been able to come up with the cash to back a viable plan. And let’s face it, as Councilman, Mr. Catalano has been voting for budget increases in every one of the last five years. Apparently, $1.8 – $2.3 million per year for the Town Attorney and a 30% raise for the mayor is just fine. The Town Budget is a zero sum game. If you add money in one place you should have to make it up in another. (Any politician taking notes here?). Of course, that never happens here. Town Hall keeps approving budgets with built in overtime, lucrative and nearly useless consulting contracts and my own personal favorite, an unlimited Town Attorney “budget”.

    The problem Mr. Catalano faces is that if he ever gets Town funding for this theater, everyone will know what it is for rather than the hidden barrels of cash the Administration usually gives away.

  3. 3 ronmoreau

    Mike,
    “There is no way that Matt Catalano and his theater minions are going to accept the conclusions of that report.”

    I disagree. Although the report does not recommend spending 30 million dollars of Stratford taxpayer money to renovate the theater at this time, It does recommend maintaining the theater building in it’s present state by the town. It also recommends “to continue to provide summer programming, with a new emphasis on high-level professionalism that will help resuscitate the theatre’s former national and international reputation, plus promote significant educational endeavors, while developing the funds to restore the theater.” Which I believe Mr. Catalano and all those concerned will embrace.

    My only question is, Will the Mayor and our Town Council Representatives support the recommendations of this task force or completely ignore it and show no support at all? What a waste that would be considering the success Festival Stratford has accomplished with their summer program.

  4. 4 ronmoreau

    A special thanks to former Mayor Miron for at least putting a new roof on the theater several years ago. His action was instrumental in saving the theater structure and he deserves much credit for doing so.

  5. 5 mikereynolds

    Ron,

    You’re right in that yes they will support outdoor performances. What I was really referring to was them not accepting renovating the theater. That is their holy grail.

  6. 6 ronmoreau

    Mike,
    It’s not what you said. It’s how you said it. Like the head line in the Stratford Star. “Shakespeare Theatre task force says no to major renovation; yes to continuing outdoors” Is not true. A very poorly written and misleading headline. The task force DOES recommend theater renovation, just not with Stratford taxpayer money.

    Task force recommendation “to continue to provide summer programming, with a new emphasis on high-level professionalism that will help resuscitate the theatre’s former national and international reputation, plus promote significant educational endeavors, WHILE DEVELOPING FUNDS TO RENOVATE THE THEATER.”

  7. 7 ronmoreau

    Having the money up front to rebuild the the theater would make their job easier, I don’t believe it will dampen their enthusiasm. Not having the moral support of the Mayor and Town Council leaders would undermine their efforts to attract those who would invest in this endeavor. Poorly written headlines and poorly written statements surely does not help.

  8. 8 ronmoreau

    Mike, By the way this is not about Mr. Catalano. It’s about respect and support for the many volunteers and their efforts in their endeavor to resurrect and provide a viable theater to enhance the quality of life in Stratford. I would hope that the Mayor and Town council get by the politics and recognize their efforts and show their support.

  9. 9 jezebel282

    Ron,

    “support for the many volunteers and their efforts”

    The problem is that there simply not enough of them. And there may never be. Perhaps if the theater had ever generated an operating profit (surplus) they could point to some evidence of a positive outcome. It remains that no entity has ever been able to reasonably demonstrate that this theater could support itself based upon ticket sales.

    The Town can’t keep spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on studies that tell us what we already know. Without a philanthropic underwriter it will continue to be a decaying building that will eventually become unsafe to be near.

  10. 10 appalledandamused

    The town residents should take note: what the majority (Republicans) conrolling the town govt. are dead set against is actually a good thing for the town as a whole. The theater is the ONE thing that the town has going for it in terms of tangible resources. People the world over know about this little theater and tie it to the city it sits in. Like it or not, making this theater viable is truly our last hope. A town steeped in asbestos contamination, indifference and nail salons is long past the wake-the-hell-up stage. It is PROVEN that towns and cities that embrace the arts rise out the ashes of ruin. Depending on a sole benefactor was the theater’s first mistake, the consultants the town employed to help pave the way to reopen with a smart plan have already spent time and money doing just that. Fundraising and continuing the outdoor events, not just one week in the summer, but all summer long, being key. Don’t let the majority in office bury this effort. Not now. Not after all the volunteer efforts and money already spent. The residents HAVE to get behind doing something for the town, or their real estate will continue to depreciate. Who wants to move to Raybestos Central where the schools are mediocre and the one thing it was known for in a positive way was allowed to turn to dust? The theater willl draw visitors who will invest in the town, not just the ticket sales. Stop the shortsighted negativity.

  11. 11 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “Depending on a sole benefactor was the theater’s first mistake”
    Umm…that’s how it got built.

    “Stop the shortsighted negativity.”
    Here I have to disagree. 30 years of never generating enough revenue is not quite “shortsighted”.

    “Like it or not, making this theater viable is truly our last hope.”
    Again, I disagree. We have done some pretty dumb things in this town. Starting even before electing Mayor Moron. We never seem to learn our lessons in this town. The basic facts are never dealt with or debated. We are no longer a manufacturing town (except Sikorsky). Stratford is 99% developed. There is simply no open space left that isn’t contaminated. Residents who live here work somewhere else and those employees that do work here live somewhere else.

    Therefore, the first dumb thing we have to stop doing is passing budgets without debate. We just gave the mayor a 30% raise for increasing our taxes four times in four years. Can we get any dumber than that? We have an HR department that is a model of inefficiency and has kept landing us at the Department of Labor, Workmen’s Compensation Commission or Court. Much to the pleasure of the Town Attorney, by the way. We have department budgets that are chock full of unnecessary staffing requirements and guaranteed overtime commitments. We have a BOE that so top heavy in administrative costs that no money is left for students.

    The Theater is not our last hope. Responsible municipal government is our last hope.

  12. 12 appalledandamused

    We can agree to disagree on this, but the reality is that Stratford has a future if it invests in the arts. Otherwise, we’re just an ugly bathroom exit off of 95 on the way to New Haven or points west of Bpt. The leaders in town either lack vision and focus on fearmongering to rally the over-taxed residents into believing this venture will be squeezed from their hides, or have hidden self-enriching fantasies for the property. Stratford can’t get out of it’s own way, apparently. Too bad.

  13. 13 ronmoreau

    Well said.

  14. 14 jezebel282

    Appalled,

    “We can agree to disagree on this”

    That’s fine. But I don’t think we disagree much. My only point being that development or re-development of this theater should not be a municipal function nor should it be subsidized by tax dollars. It’s not like Town Hall has a history of successful development either.

    If, however, private or philanthropic funding should become available then by all means get it done.

    As for what goes on there in terms of artistic performances, my interest wanes rapidly. Any performance is better than the current performance of “Nothing”.

  15. Here we go – we’ve got a boatload of empty commercial buildings around town. SAEP has sat dormant – an eyesore that must be passed to get to our beaches. There are so many problems in this Town it’s ridiculous. A gentleman I met last night say that he’s lived in Stratford for nine years and is STILL trying to find something to like about it. The lack of progression, the lack of transparency, the lack of leadership that. Honestly, who does have the best interests of the Town and people in his/her heart and mind. Who is working for us and not for a select group?

    We absolutely need to start pushing the arts in this Town. Start small. No one said the Theatre would be renovated and up and running overnight. But we’ve got to start somewhere! We need to help the rebirth of a good arts community. We can’t continue this back and forth issue of not spending taxpayer money, etc. It’s so much BS that’s force fed. How can you believe anything that is put out there when there still is no transparency, there’s just the boys of the RTC talking their usual smack! Stop that part of the insanity and work towards a solution that puts Stratford back on the map, and fuels some progress in and around Town.

    Who knows if the Sikorsky thing is just a rumor or not, one of Harkins’ huge debacles of this term is going to be pushing for privatization of the WPCA (which will mean loss of jobs, and a serious cost increase for taxpayers). The mistakes that he will make over during his next term aren’t going to be correctable. His mistakes will be permanent that WE, taxpayers will have to live with. And what will be left with.

    I keep saying Stratford has been behind the 8-ball for far too long. We, the taxpayers, are continuously sucked dry. Follow where the money lands when the Mayor and Republican-controlled Town Council gets what they want – it’s not back to the people, there’s only a select few who reap the rewards. It’s never about the people.

  16. 16 mikereynolds

    Pat,

    You really should lockdown your Facebook page. Anyone can see your posts and photos.

  17. Mike ~ Thanks! I’ve tried, but I think it’s a FB glitch….. I’ll just “tweet” since I don’t use Twitter….. LOL Feel free to take any of the recipes I’ve posted, some are tried and true. ;>D

  18. 18 jezebel282

    Update:

    “Mayor John Harkins announced March 3 that the Town of Stratford will be sending out a request for proposals (RFP) seeking an end-user interested in funding a revival of the now dormant Shakespeare Theatre.
    The Town’s news release called this undertaking “one final effort for theater proposals.” http://www.stratfordstar.com/18161/town-inviting-proposals-for-theater-operation/

    And then what?


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