Does anyone else notice how the facts about the Lincoln Theater seem stuck, never change?
I don't just mean the fact that the Lincoln is, despite the "offer" made by Scott Nagel, still very much FOR SALE. No, I mean the "facts" that said Mr. Nagel keeps presenting to the community. Here we are, many weeks after these numbers were first announced (and over a week since it was last a topic here), and the figures are still $175,000 "raised," 65 donors have pledged $1,000 "or more," 135 "donors" total, etc.
It seems like one of two things is at play here. Either these are just the feel-good numbers Nagel and Crew have agreed upon and are using to try to entice suckers, or, the numbers are actually fairly accurate - but they've plateaued. They're stuck. There aren't any more suckers stepping up. Momentum zero.
The latest forum to roll this pipe dream and funny figures out at was last Thursday evening, when there were real live people from "out there" in the house. These guests, Scot and Linda Whitney, who run the State Theater in Olympia, are severely underrepresented in quotes in the PDN article, which would lead me to believe they didn't have much to say. (The photo accompanying the article shows a pained-looking Linda Whitney looking pityingly out at the audience.)
Yes, the Whitneys have made a go of it in Olympia, with a theater that was also "abandoned." But that is, at best, a very superficial comparison. For one thing, the owner of the Lincoln hasn't put a dime into it for maintenance for decades. (It is in extremely rundown condition, to be charitable.) The State Theater was not in that state of decrepitude when the Whitneys took it on.
And they took it on twenty years ago. In the state capitol. Which has (and had) more than double the population of Port Angeles. And is on I-5. And is in a county with three times the population of Clallam County. And is an hour from other larger bodies of population. And is in a community with three colleges, and other sizable arts organizations.
Twenty years ago, the economy was very different than it is today. There were more grants for these types of projects available from various sources. And the pitch for such projects didn't have to contend with the question that did come up at this last meeting: How do you compete with the multitude of electronic devices and entertainment options available? Just the combo of those two factors alone make the Lincoln much more of an uphill climb.
But even if you're optimistic about grants, like professional grant vampire Karen Hanan, who spoke at this last meeting, isn't it likely that, all other things being equal (which they aren't, but let's pretend), grant funding sources at the state level would be more inclined to support projects that are in their own community? I mean, if you're a theater goer, and live in Olympia, why wouldn't you support the State Theater project? But Port Angeles? That's a totally different story, in more ways than one.
Then there's location, location, location. As in, Port Angeles is way, way off the beaten path, and then some. Sure, you might be able to get some of the Clallam County folks who currently go to Port Townsend and Seattle for culture to stay home, but does anyone really think the Lincoln could not only end that trend, but actually reverse it and draw people from outside of Clallam County in? Given the wide variety of music/movies/theater choices available elsewhere regionally, that seems doubtful.
Which leads to the population...Which is small, and their representation at these Lincoln meetings, even smaller. You're not going to get very far or last very long with 135 people as your audience, even if they all somehow managed to spend $1,000 ("or more") a year. Hell, you got less than half that amount to show up for this last meeting. That doesn't come across as a groundswell of enthusiasm to me.
It seems to me, if you're talking about mobilizing 60 people to turn out for a meeting, and at that meeting you're talking about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, the time and effort would be better spent getting those folks to a City Council meeting, and raising hell in support of the City building a new reservoir or two.
In other words, the Lincoln Theater is, and will remain, a big, white elephant. But the fact that the City could literally run out of water? That remains the elephant in the room that those in charge are oh so reluctant to acknowledge.
The Lincoln would be a nice amenity. Water is a necessity. And life is all about setting priorities.