Dramatic Art Club: the governance of the Calumet Theater, a major concern of the Town Hall | News, Sports, Jobs


Graham Jaehnig / Daily Mining Gazette The Calumet village council chamber was noisy during an October 2019 meeting, as audience members argued with council members over whether to allow operating marijuana-based businesses with the village. Administrator Doug Harrer (foreground) voted against the marijuana ordinance, as did village president Dave Geisler (behind desk). Clockwise from left, Trustees Josh Row, Andrew Ranville, Roxanne King, Village Manager Caleb Katz and Nathan Anderson.

CALUMET – The board of directors of the Calumet theater has become an increasingly controversial issue among the inhabitants of the village, members of the theater and even members of the board of the theater itself. However, this may soon end, as the village council has started to take steps to terminate the lease with the company.

The subject was on the agenda for the regular August Board meeting at which Director Elise Metz told the Board that it was time for them to consult a lawyer on the matter.

“I started writing 45 days notice today” she said, “And then I realized that if we put something in writing without understanding the full extent of what we can say, we might get in a corner and I don’t want to do that.” “

According to the Théâtre Calumet website, the non-profit company operates the “Calumet Theater presenting professional entertainment and offering the facility for use by the community. Continue the process of restoring the building.

The mission statement on the site states that: “The Calumet Theater Company is committed to providing a quality entertainment experience that offers diverse cultural and artistic opportunities while preserving the historic character of the theater.”

Typically, as the Calumet Theater page of the Keweenaw community website indicates, the theater puts on over 60 shows per year, serving 16,000 people per year. The theater hosts both classic and family movies and performances ranging from high school plays and local theater productions, to world-class performers such as Arlo Guthrie, Gaelic Storm, Little River Band and Lee Greenwood.

Matz told council that the lease allows termination if certain criteria are met, such as breaches of the lease that she says exist. These include commercial kitchen equipment stored in the ballroom; non-payment of rent; as well as the financial problems linked to the work on the building that the theater is carrying out. The mentioned kitchen equipment was donated to the theater in 2020.

The August 8, 2020 edition of the Daily Mining Gazette ran an article citing then-executive director Marlin Lee, saying that one of the board members, in partnership with a restaurant, was able to secure donations from some “Truly upscale kitchen equipment.”

The article stated that among the donated kitchen equipment was a new restaurant-grade gas range, with eight burners. However, none of the donated equipment was installed, as the final kitchen renovation plans did not allow the installation of such equipment.

Kitchen supplies are still stored in the ballroom, and the village council wants them removed from the property.

“But I think there is a bigger problem”, Matz said. “It’s that the theater is in a public trust and right now, (and) with the board being as dysfunctional as it is, they’re not doing their due diligence to the community.”

The council does not put on shows, she explained, and they are not “Play the role we expect of them”.

A page called “The Lawyers of the Calumet Theater” was created on a social media platform about a month ago, stating:

“In April, Marlin Lee, General Manager of the Calumet Theater, was sacked by a decision of the Board of Directors. This decision was made on a whim, with no proper plan in place to ensure the theater would continue to operate successfully. In support of Marlin and in protest against the poor management of the theater, the rest of the staff resigned.

The page goes on to allege that since April the theater has been “limping along” without long-term staff in place.

“The board took this time to fuel disinformation and lies from the public and the village,” the page alleges. “The theater company violated its lease with the village, resulting in a 45-day notice of non-compliance being sent to the theater company. The board shared little to no communication with the community as they continued to make poor and reckless decisions that hurt the theater. “

Jacob Mihelich, an administrator for the Advocate page, posted on August 10, 2020, that a theater board member informed him that“”Tonight, the Calumet Theater Company board votes on whether or not board members will be able to share theater information with the public.

“Board members are meant to be the voice of the membership and advocates of the theater. Anyone who would propose or support such a thing is in strong opposition to what is right and just. “

An August 21 post on the Advocate page said the writer had purchased tickets for the Joe Nichols concert which was originally scheduled for October 30, 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic. According to an October 20, 2020 press release from Marlin Lee, published in the Daily Mining Gazette, Nichols’ performance was postponed from Saturday, November 14, 2020 to Thursday, May 27, 2021.

“The date change is necessitated by Michigan State’s Safe Start Phase 4 restrictions, which currently only allow 20% audience capacity for venues like the Calumet Theater.” Lee said in the statement. “Advance ticket sales have already far exceeded these limits and are still selling out, heading for a near sold-out performance.”

Nichols still hasn’t appeared at the Calumet Theater, and his events page doesn’t suggest he will, but the post’s author said she was unable to get her tickets refunded, which total $ 165.

Council administrator Rob Tarvis responded by saying: “You are not the only person who has struggled to get a refund. I’ll start with Shannon (Richter), she’s the chair of the board.

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