Theater restructuring seems the right decision

Being financially prudent often makes sense, but it can come with difficulty.

The Peninsula Arts Appreciation Council has a plan to restructure the operations of the Historic Vista Theater in Negaunee, basically separating the theater’s players and producers from the people raising funds for the renovation and upkeep of the 91-year-old facility.

PAAC, since forming in 1973, has been unique in that it’s a single organization combining the business and artistic aspects.

Both typically are necessary to run a successful theater.

However, financial concerns regarding the Historic Vista Theater resulted in the elimination earlier this month of its sole paid position held by the former executive director, Andrew Tyler, who made $12,000 per year.

Losing a position is difficult for many people, but Tyler acknowledged on his personal Facebook page that he understood the decision was necessary if the theater were to remain financially solvent.

The proposed plan also has a goal of increasing accessibility to the venue for economy-boosting events. If formed, the new non-profit performing group could produce up to four shows annually, and although it would receive start-up funding from the Vista Theater organization, it would have to be self-sufficient after that.

What’s good to hear is that the creative and financial entities would operate separately but still be cooperative. Obviously, they share a common interest — the theater — but that means ensuring there’s a viable brick-and-mortar establishment as well as players to perform in it.

Some people probably are better at raising funds but don’t have the desire to act, and vice versa.

It’s hard to believe, though, that one could survive without the other. The Historic Vista Theater, in a way, is like just about any other business; different skill sets are needed to make it work.

Although there’s no timetable set for the proposed plan, we believe this is the right direction for the Historic Vista Theater.

Its legacy, as stated on its website at vistatheater.org, is “to enrich those in the Upper Peninsula through means of story telling and performance arts of all kinds.”

We hope the theater has a long, enduring future, and this plan hopefully ensures that legacy.

— The Mining Journal

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