by Reeve Hamilton
The Texas Tribune
Disclosure: My great-grandfather was in the movie business.
That is, he owned and operated the Mission Theatre in Menard, a town on the edge of West Texas whose population peaked at 2,674 nearly six decades ago. The building has been mostly dormant for nearly 60 years, since he closed the theater in 1953. It flooded in 1980, and a decade later the roof collapsed. In the years before a new one could be put on, trees began to grow through the floor.
In 2010, Kaci Kothmann formed the Mission Theatre Restoration Foundation, a small band of Menard residents who hope to reopen the theater. “It would be fantastic for the community,” Kothmann said. “To help create business, create revenue, create some interest and hopefully put Menard a little bit more on the map.”
That statement is music to the ears of Amy Barbee, the executive director at the Texas Cultural Trust, which is leading a push to redefine the state’s understanding of the role of the arts as a driver of economic growth, not just cultural niceties. With financial hardships making people keep their wallets snapped shut, and as the Legislature looks to scale back the state’s spending by up to $27 billion over the next two years, expenditures that are seen as luxuries may quickly be cut.
“It’s more than fluff,” Barbee said. “We want to tell the qualitative and quantitative story that the arts truly are economic development.” (full story)
Sun, January 30, 2011
by Downtown Amarillo