January 21 update: Where we stand – and the special skill we’re urgently seeking

Hollywood Theatre circa 1961. Thanks to the Kits (Now and Then) Facebook Page for the photo.
Hollywood Theatre circa 1961. Thanks to the Kits (Now and Then) Facebook Page for the photo.

Many of you have been asking for an update on what’s happening. Some media reports have implied that the Hollywood is safely out of danger, however this is by no means the case. We apologize for not providing more info sooner, but things have been very much in flux; sometimes the outlook seemed to go from ecstatic to gloomy within hours. But as we write this, though the outcome remains far from certain, our hopes are moving in a positive direction. We now can give you a hint of where we’re at.

At the same time, there’s some vital new tasks on our plate that we’re hoping some of you could help with. Read on! (Or click to go straight to what we need!)

Committee activity

The Coalition has been communicating and meeting regularly through the Christmas holidays. Subcommittees have focused on the many key tasks, including contact with the City and with the owner; assembly of a detailed business plan; communicating with potential buyers; and researching successful examples of similar endeavours across the country and around the world.

Meetings of key players

Most recently, a meeting was held between representatives of the Coalition and of city staff. And our understanding is that the owner, Dino Bonnis, continues to be interested in a solution that would work for the community, the city, and himself. But the final shape of that solution is yet to be fully defined.

Encouraging statements from City Hall

Meanwhile, in the media and in response to supporters’ letters, positive statements appeared from city councilors Geoff Meggs. A welcome statement was, “the city cannot and will not issue any development or demolition permits for the site.” He also said, “the theatre is safe from demolition and redevelopment until a suitable solution is found. There will be no development permit issued until future use is determined.”

Despite these encouraging signs, we continued to advocate to City Council for a 45-day extension (to the maximum 120 days allowable) of the protection order. Many thanks for the number of letters that supporters sent to City Council about this. While the order did expire on Monday January 20th, and we didn’t get it formally extended, we have – thanks in part to your letters – been assured that the City and the owner have agreed to honour the 45-day protection period unoficially.

What we need now

One of the options we are exploring is to find a philanthropist who would buy the Hollywood and gift it to a nonprofit “Hollywood Theatre Society” for operating in perpetuity as a community movie, arts and performance space. There are a number of variations on this concept under consideration, modeled after many other nonprofit success stories, but the key is finding potential donors and/or owners.

This is quite a pressing issue and we must act on it very soon. However, locating such people is not something any of us are experts at, nor can we (due to the existing, essential committee work) devote full time to it.

This is one area where you can be of vital help. We need people who are knowledgeable about fundraising, and experienced at locating, approaching and communicating with potential owners or donors. Not necessarily asking for anything directly, but just able to “open the doors”, so to speak.

Of course, we are also happy to hear directly from anyone who might have the capacity and interest, if not to purchase the Hollywood then to at least make a sizable donation – not only individuals but also corporations/organizations. But the key task is to research and find people who would welcome the opportunity to put their resources to work for something that will have tremendous meaning for both themselves and the community at large.

If any of this sounds like something you, or someone you know, may be able to help with… please get in touch with us by contacting the Save the Hollywood Coalition at savethehollywoodtheater@gmail.com .

We are at a critical juncture in the process of preserving the Hollywood for future generations. With a lot of hard work and a little luck, we will have a successful outcome and a two-thumbs-up “Hollywood Ending” we can all be truly satisfied with!

Adam Abrams

Communications Committee,
Save the Hollywood Theatre Coalition

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