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Continued lack of volunteers jeopardizing theater’s future PDF Print E-mail

■ Future of Eagles Club to be decided. PAGE 2.

By Russ Pankonin

The Imperial Republican

For more than 25 years, Imperial’s theater has operated on a volunteer basis. But finding volunteers has proved increasingly difficult, especially the last two years.    
So much so, that the future of Imperial’s theater remains up in the air.
The last resort: close the Imperial Theater. That’s not what the city theater board wants to do. Neither does the city council.
Saturday night’s show was cancelled due to the lack of volunteers, likely due to conflicts caused by the July 4 holiday weekend.
But the lack of people willing to work the theater will force changes for the theater, said Jill Moline, theater board  president.
The theater board met Tuesday afternoon to discuss options going forward.
Moline said one possibility would be to hire a part-time worker to assist volunteers. The employee would open up the theater, get the cash ready, begin popping corn, etc.
However, Moline said it may be as difficult to find someone to work weekend nights as it is to get volunteers.
She said they are looking at all possibilities to avoid having to close the theater.
No tax money used for theater
Since the theater reopened under the direction of the city many years ago, the theater has never been on the tax rolls, Imperial City Clerk Jo Leyland said. But that may have to change, she said.
She said the council held a retreat Tuesday night and she brought up the issue for discussion.
She said council members indicated a willingness to use tax dollars to employ someone to run the theater concessions versus closing the theater.
Leyland said people may be surprised to know the theater generates just enough profit to pay for ongoing operation and maintenance.  
Moline said if the theater hires people for its operation, it’s likely ticket prices and concession prices would increase.
A person can buy a ticket at the Imperial theater for $5, which is far less than a theater in any city. Plus, concessions are a lot less expensive.
That makes the theater family friendly, Leyland said, and they rarely bring in an R-rated movie to maintain that atmosphere.
Unfortunately, Moline said she’s seeing more situations in which people are unwilling to volunteer time for local organizations and activities.
The school implemented a policy requiring high school students to perform community service each year.
Moline said they’ve had some students use the theater for their community service hours, but it’s not to the extent she expected after the policy went into effect.