It’s old and it needs a lot of repair, but the rent is affordable. It’s a dollar a year.
That’s the deal the Monroe Arts Council has made with the Monroe School District in order to provide Monroe with an ongoing theater venue.
The Monroe Arts Council, which formed to mark Monroe’s 100th birthday, has in recent years explored several options to bring a community theater space to Monroe. Now that the group has settled on the old auditorium, they will hold all of their future events there.
The 1939 building will need a lot of work, said Ken Hoover, superintendent of the Monroe School District.
“It’s not likely to be a high priority for us to fix and would be expensive to bring it up to standard,” he said.
So several years ago, the building was declared surplus (or unneeded).
When the arts council approached the district, turning over responsibility for the maintenance of the old structure seemed like a good deal, said Hoover.
“It’s a win/win partnership with someone who will raise more money,” he said.
Since public entities can’t give anything for free lest it be a gift of public funds, the district charged the fee of a dollar a year, a formality at use in many cities, and similar to the dollar a year the food bank pays the city in rent.
But restoring the beautiful old theater won’t be as cheap, said Kim Hoover of the Monroe Arts Council. She is Ken Hoover’s wife, and says that for that reason, she was not involved with the negotiations.
The first order of business is to raise money to fix up the bathrooms, creating handicap access. And there are major electrical issues to address.
Eventually the entire slope of the floor will need to be made less steep in order to facilitate better handicap access. The stage will need to be extended forward somewhat, and the entrances reconfigured.
Some problems likely can’t be solved; the auditorium doesn’t have green rooms for dressing, and there isn’t room to build any.
But most of the problems can be solved if the money can be found. “We have a lot of fundraising to do,” said Hoover.
Already entertainment groups are scheduling the use of the 500-seat space. And the arts council hopes to see other events such as touring plays come through.
“This is an exciting opportunity for everyone in the Sky Valley community,” said Leonie Saaski, President of the Monroe Arts Council. “We really need a large place where people can gather for community events.”