Georgia Theater Accepting Donations for Renovation — Cool or Uncool?

Written on August 19, 2009 at 2:24 pm, by Amelia

One of the AJC’s new blogs, Inside Access, recently featured news about the Georgia Theatre, which was ravaged by a fire in June.

The Georgia Theater in Athens, GA

(Photo courtesy of neuftoes)

The theater, located in Athens, is now accepting donations through the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation to help offset construction costs.  If the commenters are to be believed (and given the history of commenters at the AJC, this is at best hazardous), this partnership has gotten some major panties in a bunch.

Recently, there have been a few for-profit businesses (Paste, Wordsmiths (RIP)) that have asked for donations to keep themselves alive.  The mixing of profit with non-profit tactics really ticked some people off.

Yet we, as a non-profit, ask for donations to stay alive all the time.  Really, it’s pretty much all we do.  And to date, not one person has yelped, “Well, I NEVER!” in response.

Now, I know there are inherent differences (like tax-exemption).  But how severe are those differences from the viewpoint of the Average Joe who’s happy to see both the Wren’s Nest and the Georgia Theatre in his neighborhood?  Should he not financially support the theater because it’s for-profit, even though the end result is essentially the same for him?

I know the simple logic is “Well derr, Amelia — you support the theater by giving them money to see shows they put on.  Idiot.”  But that’s hard to do when the theater is all “non-functional” and “charred.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I have donated my hard-earned pennies to for-profits, but not all that asked.  And with a lot more deliberation than when I’ve donated to non-profits.

What do y’all think?  Would you donate to the Georgia Theatre?

3 Comments to Georgia Theater Accepting Donations for Renovation — Cool or Uncool?

  1. Kirk says:

    I’m certainly happy to see some fresh content on the blog, good work Amelia!
    The answer to your query is, yes, if the Georgia Theatre was important to me I would have no problem helping them get back on their feet.

  2. Deb A says:

    I think some people feel that if they are for profit they should look for investors who could get something back from their money, as opposed to donations, which are given with no expectation or desire for payback. This case is a little different than say Wordsmiths because the theater is old and a landmark, so it is kind of a for profit non profit in a sense. As opposed to Wordsmiths which was just a for profit. Also, places like Wordsmiths who needed help because of bad luck and mismanagement are different than the GA Theater because the theater is in this due solely to bad luck.

  3. Travis David says:

    I think that if a building of historical importance is in peril – be it a property owned by a for-profit, or not-for-profit organization – it deserves to be preserved, and that any parties interested in contributing to it’s preservation should be allowed to donate what they will, and support it however they choose. One such example is the Strand Theater in Marietta. The owner of the structure is a notorious jerk and would just as well let the building fall in on itself. The community pulled together and said “We don’t care, we’re fixing this building because we want our kids to be able to experience this history, so we’ll pay to fix this wonderful landmark.” And they did. Does the jerk still own it? Yes. Did he have to pay for any of the restoration? No. If he wanted to turn around and sell the building in a few years and would he make a killer profit? Yes. But the fact of the matter is, the building was saved, and is no longer sitting dilapidated and unused. And the community is ok with that.

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