Monday, March 21, 2011

A Neighborhood and A Theater - "Now They Want To Come?"

In today's Washington Post, the story of an 83 year old man who bought an old movie house, tried to make it work as a theater, lost $350K and now just wants to sell it to developers. However:

McGinty, who wants to build apartments where the abandoned theater stands, stars opposite Loretta Neumann, who wants to save the old movie house and recast it as a nonprofit arts and culture center.


Neumann, who has lived four blocks from the Takoma for more than 30 years, was delighted when McGinty bought the old movie house and converted it into a stage theater.

“Mr. McGinty fixed it up, and we were so happy about that,” she said. She went to two of his plays, she said.

But when the theater failed to make money and McGinty applied for his first permit to raze the building in 2007, Neumann started the Takoma Theatre Conservancy and showed up at a historic preservation board hearing to thwart him.

She has since secured two major grants from the District to fund the conservancy’s efforts to transform the Takoma into a nonprofit.

This week, the conservancy will present several performances of “Let Freedom Ring: The Story of Marian Anderson,” a chamber opera whose librettist, Carolivia Herron, is the conservancy’s vice president. The performance Friday at the Washington Ethical Society will be a gala fundraiser for the conservancy.

“I will not be there,” McGinty said, unsurprisingly. He was standing at the back of his empty theater. The thought made him chuckle — until it didn’t.

“What irritates me the most is these people who say they’ll be hurt if this place is gone — they never came,” he said. “They never came until I said I want out. And now they want to come?”

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