If there's one thing that there's way too much of on the web it's political commentary. The 2008 US presidential election alone is making a great case for a return to stone-age grassroots political activism.
So far I've avoided wading into the political arena on this blog - there's enough of that out there, and I don't want anyone to think for a second that Grinder Productions caters to the whims of one political ideology more than the other - conservative or liberal, left of right, all are welcome at this company - that's they way it has always been and the way it always will be as long as I have some say in the matter.
I've even avoided the temptation to comment on the blood-sport municipal politics in Centre Wellington. There's enough hot-heads hurling f-bombs at our counselors and ill-considered letters to the editor already.
However, as I was on the top of a ladder yesterday fixing some rigging at the theatre as the rain from the leaking roof poured down around me I began to worry about all this political commentary.
The Fergus Grand Theatre has been the source of much political commentary, to be sure. The debate about whether or not to even keep the building open was long, lively and at times even a bit frightening. To be sure, the current municipal council, as well as the previous council, both endorsed the theatre as a viable, vital part of the community. The case has been more than made for the economic, cultural, and tourism-based benefits of a live performance venue in a community, and the efforts of the Fergus Grand Theatre Volunteers (as well as various user groups) to raise money for the purchase new equipment has been one of the greatest success stories since the theatre came into the township's hands after the collapse of the resident professional company in the summer of 2002. The theatre enjoys the full support of the township administration, who have gladly accepted the burden of an extra facility under the auspices of Parks and Recreation.
The Fergus Grand Theatre is a success story for Centre Wellington: the community inherited a mess and has turned it around. Now if only they could get the roof fixed...
The building is turning 80 years old this year. It is still in very good shape, but will require some capital repairs in the immediate future, as well as down the road. And I am not going to use this blog as a forum to call for these repairs to be made - the people who can make this happen are ready and willing. What I am calling for is for everyone else who may have a minor quibble about the costs involved to tone down their rhetoric just a touch. Let's keep it all very civil, and let's keep in in perspective. The costs are small, and they will pay dividends down the road. If we do nothing, it will cost us more down the road. If we were to close the theatre and have no suitable replacement venue (and it Centre Wellington there is nothing that even comes close) the net loss to the community in jobs and economic input would eventually cost us even more.
I guess in the end all I'm saying is please be nice to the "Grand Old Gal." And certainly, make you come and see a show for yourself before you make any judgements. Talk to Alan Argue, the operations manager, about how far we've come. Talk to the people who use the building. Talk to me. This is not my theatre. It does not belong to any one person. It is our theatre. We all have a responsibility to take care of it for the benefit of our community.