By Jan Schultz, The Imperial Republican News Editor
In recent weeks, you’ve read or heard about a lack of volunteers at our Imperial Theatre, as well as financial problems with the Imperial Eagles Club, some of which is related to volunteer help, as well.
These are two important parts of our community. The theatre provides a family-friendly entertainment avenue, while the Eagles’ operation has provided donations to numerous community projects over the years.
But, unless we all step up, we may lose both of them. Or, in the case of the theatre, be saddled with more taxes to keep it operating.
Imperial is updating its Comprehensive Plan and I found it interesting at this week’s council meeting when the discussion on the plan turned to recreational attractions people desire here.
Referring to the community input meetings held the past year and a half, one of the city planners noted how the desire for some type of cultural arts center came up at nearly every gathering. It was high on the list of “dreams” Imperial residents have for their community.
However, our own residents allowed two very strong organizations—the Chase County Area Arts Council and the Imperial Community Players—to fold and cease existence.
Why? People unwilling to replace long-time volunteers who previously kept the organizations going. Board members just got tired.
The arts council used to bring in orchestras, the Nebraska Theatre Caravan, blue grass bands and more to Imperial for local performances at a very reasonable season ticket price.
Likewise, the Imperial Community Players staged major musicals during Chase County Fair week. Productions such as “Showboat,” “The Sound of Music,” “South Pacific,” “Damn Yankees” and “Oklahoma” were just a few presented here, all with local talent.
Those talented actors are still among us, but it also takes people to organize and do the behind-the-scenes work....volunteers!
Unless we all step up, our movie theatre may also be a thing of the past in the next few years if not sooner.
We can no longer think, “Someone else can do it. I’m too busy.”
Or look at it from an economic angle—what will happen if our theatre should close? People will likely start planning more out-of-town trips to catch a movie, which also means shopping, going to a restaurant and buying gas elsewhere.
Many organizations, businesses and families already volunteer at the theatre regularly and that should be commended.
But many are not.
As we worked two weekends ago, it was good to see volunteer sign-up sheets there at the theatre with several names added just the night we worked. What a great idea.
But let’s not let this sign-up surge be a temporary thing. Volunteers are an ongoing need in all small communities. The needs at the theatre now have brought that to the forefront.
I have faith we’ll keep our theatre afloat.
But, it’s going to take all of us—not someone else.