Back in February of 2007, the Senator Theatre survived a foreclosure threat only after community donations and a bridge loan allowed owner Tom Kiefaber to pay off his $109,828.64 debt to 1st Mariner Bank. That was the theater’s third near-death experience in the last 15 years, according to Liz Farmer.
A story in Friday’s edition of the Baltimore Sun describes a Thursday night meeting to discuss turning the Senator into a nonprofit venture (seems it already was one, and that’s the problem). This is Kiefaber’s latest idea to keep the doors open.
The 200-or-so attendees reminisced about “personal stories of first dates and kisses at the theater” and spit-balled ideas on what new purposes the building could serve in its extended life.
From the Sun story:
“There is something extraordinary about this place,” Kiefaber said. “There is an incredible energy in this theatre.”
No, clearly there isn’t. The free market has spoken — the Senator is dead.
I understand people have memories attached to the place, but all their praise and all their memories haven’t translated into the dollars needed to keep the theater running these past few years. So now it needs yet another bailout. Seems there’s a lot of that going around in this economy.
The market doesn’t want the Senator. It doesn’t care how many single-screen theaters are left in the U.S. It only cares about businesses that can sustain themselves — not those that can only tug on heartstrings every couple of years in order to eke out a little more time on the ventilator.
And if this latest plan does work — if the Senator ultimately does become some “multipurpose entertainment and education venue” — that means it won’t be what all these people remember. All that work, and what we know as “The Senator Theatre” will still be gone.
I propose we let it go for now. Maybe one day a new owner can come along and make it into what it once was — and fund it with ticket prices, not through pleas in a newspaper. The building’s only a shell, and closing its doors won’t mean the memories will vanish.
Give it some dignity. And stop spending money to slow its inevitable demise. There are a lot more important issues to deal with right now.
JOE BACCHUS, Web Specialist