Interlochen and the State Theatre

There’s lots of buzz around town about Michael Moore’s TC Film Festival, which, considering what a lightening rod (or trouble maker, depending on your views) Moore is, has been remarkably apolitical.

One of the really good things the festival has done was featured in the Record-Eagle over the weekend: it has brought new hope and attention to the State Theatre project, which has languished for years.

TRAVERSE CITY – Delbert Dalzell’s first date was at the State Theatre to see “South Pacific.”
Now he’s one of several volunteers working to fix up the classic movie house in time for the Traverse City Film Festival initiated by filmmaker Michael Moore and set for July 27-31.
“I walked her through that door,” Dalzell said of his date as he stood near the State’s Front Street entrance.
Dalzell worked to replace floor tiles in the front of the theater and mend holes in its metal facade. He said it fits in well with his occupation as a designer and builder of businesses and homes.
He’s among about 30 people who have lent a hand in some way, and among about a dozen who have returned several times over the past three weeks, said Tim Hall, who is coordinating the effort.
“It’s been really cool, because for the most part, the people showing up here read about it or heard about it from somebody else,” he said. “And about 90 percent of the people here, I’ve never met.”
Volunteers have worked several nights a week sprucing up the concession stand, putting in ambient lighting at the sides of the screen, replacing floor tiles, cleaning marquee letters and organizing the storage area for them.
They’ve repainted the back wall of the auditorium and touched up a cherry-tree mural on the sides. They’ve updated electrical wiring and plumbing and had the roof repaired.
And they’ve replaced the bulbs in the flashing marquee.
Hall said they couldn’t have done it without donations of time and materials. Two paint stores combined to donate about 50 gallons of paint.

. . . .

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.
While current fixes are largely cosmetic, Heaton said they will help achieve the permanent renovation.
“It’s very significant in terms of getting people in so they can see the potential this building has of becoming a core of our performing arts community,” he said.
Kathryn Dalgliesh, a 21-year-old volunteer, has never been to the theater for a show, but senses its importance based on comments from passers-by.
“We’ve had a lot of elderly people come by here and just to hear the things they remember about it is fun,” she said. “It’s really great that we’re recreating memories for people and not just recreating the building.”

Back in 2003 the big excitement was that Interlochen 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.

OPK

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