Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Michael Moore to Buy TC's State Theater?

As Traverse City readers will already know, Michael Moore held a successful film festival here in Traverse City last summer, but he's been running into some trouble lining up venues for a repeat performance next year.

Some time back I wrote this about Moore and the State Theater:
In 1996, plans were announced to convert the theater and the former Kurtz Music building next door into a $6.9 million community arts and performance complex.
A legal dispute between the State Theatre Group and Barry Cole, who donated the building to the group, held up the project and it was scaled back to $4.6 million before it again stalled.

In 2003, the State Theatre Group and Interlochen Center for the Arts announced a partnership to renovate it. [Interlochen's contribution being . . . no cash whatsoever and two years of nothing much happening.]

The group has about $6.5 million yet to raise for the $10 million renovation, Interlochen spokesman Paul Heaton said. [The preceding from the TC Record-Eagle. ]

Back in 2003 the big excitement was that the Interlochen Arts Academy was partnering with the Sate Theater group to get this project rolling.

Two years and nothing happened until Michael Moore came along.

One has to wonder what's going on with the people supposedly in charge of this potentially quite valuable space. Why is the famously self-serving Interlochen now being given power over the space when they refuse to invest any money in it and seem to have so little power to re-invigorate the project.

Why does TC think that having an Interlochen outpost in town is such a grand thing for the city (as opposed to Interlochen itself)? Aside from providing a home for the Symphony Orchestra--which I and the vast majority of area residents have zero interest in--what is the vision for this place? How can it be made to be a community resource aside from handing it over (for nothing!) to an Arts academy that has never shown any real interest in the local community.

Perhaps we ought to consider turning the thing over to Moore, who has an equal reputation for being self-serving, but who can at least get some things done.Well, it seems that there's to be an announcement of an "acquisition" by the Traverse City Film Festival (otherwise known as Michael Moore) tomorrow morning.

I'm betting they bought the State. And I'm hoping that this will end Interlochen's tie to the theatre, as well. Interlochen booking the State Theatre is no blessing: just look at how unimaginative their own festival booking has been over the past several years. An Interlochen logowear store is no blessing to the State Theatre. And effectively selling tickets doesn't take genius, it just takes the promise of profit.

A film-festival-led effort to completely take over this facility, though, could be a wonderful thing for the community. Imagine this facility with strong links to a wide-range of local and grassroots organizations through town: the food co-op, churches, political organizations, the community radio station, TCTV 2, the library, 54-40 or Fight, the locally-owned bookstore . . .

This could really be something if Moore is willing to risk his prospects of getting into Traverse City's Rotary Club (seriously, he really seems to want to learn the TC secret handshake!).