The current County Supervisor’s race between Judy Arnold and Toni Shroyer is raising many issues within the community resulting in much discussion across Novato. One issue that is receiving considerable focus is the Novato Theater. While Novato Theater welcomes greater awareness there is a lot of misinformation circling which we believe necessitates correction to help voters decide which candidate can do more for our cause.
While I live in district 4 and have no vote in this race, as president of Novato Theater I have an interest in the best outcome for the theater. We aspire to be a community theater for all Novato as well as the North Bay. I have served on the theater’s board for 7 years and recently was elected President. My key mission is to get the theater built.
Firstly it should be said that the role of supervisor does not have any direct responsibility towards, or control of, Novato Theater. Novato Theater is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, controlled by its board. The reason the theater is not built today is because we, the board and our many volunteers, have as yet failed to raise sufficient donations to do so. Toni Shroyer’s campaign is arguing that Judy Arnold is responsible for the theater not being built. This is plain wrong and disregards the work of our board, volunteers and donors.
Toni Shroyer in her new mailer is also blaming Judy Arnold for the current state of the property. For the same reasons above that was not her responsibility. Judy Arnold is an advisor to our board and has no vote. The truth is Judy advised our board not to proceed with demolition and reconstruction until full funding was in hand. Our board chose, independently, to start construction on the premise it would show action and encourage further donations.
In hindsight we did not appreciate that people might not understand the need to meet today’s building codes and ADA requirements and saw the demolition as destruction. The old structure while nostalgic was a hazard. When completed the original façade, which we have carefully retained, will be re-installed to deliver our intention of retaining the old town ‘40’s feel to the Novato Theater.
Judy Arnold as an advisor has consistently championed the theater’s cause for many years. She has been instrumental in securing over $1M in donations and pledges, which is more than anyone else. She is familiar with all of our issues and supports the current plan to complete the theater.
Toni Shroyer has not interacted at all with our board, nor our many volunteers, nor has been a donor. “Finish the Novato Theater” is her published action point #4. We await Shroyer’s action on how, if elected, to make this happen. We welcome her input.
The Novato City Council after years of owning the theater property and not making progress decided that it should change its strategy in June 2008. The eventual result was to outsource the effort of building the theater to a non-profit. Hence our very existence arises from the council’s strategy.
Novato Theater has naturally sought support from the City in its endeavors. Novato Theater has been working with the city administration since last November to help facilitate release of our $1.5+M in pledges, more than enough to complete the structure, and set us on a path to completion. Novato Theater is not seeking any new funding from the City. We are striving to complete our preparation and will soon be seeking to go forward onto the City Council’s agenda for a vote. A yes vote will accelerate our efforts and facilitate opening within 12 – 15 months.
Novato Theater believes it will take continuing consistent focus and effort to achieve our aims. From that perspective we see the supervisor’s role being to encourage the City to adopt the facilitation proposal and importantly to contribute directly or indirectly to the ongoing serious effort of fund raising.
I have been conducting an outreach program related to the facilitation proposal to explain the concept and benefits. That just so happened to coincide with the supervisor’s race and possibly elevated us as an issue, one that we recognize is emotional for many. Regardless I continue to welcome any opportunity to speak to our cause at any community group now and after the election.
The Novato Theater board is extremely appreciative of our many volunteers who have put in a huge number of hours over the years, as well as the many people who have donated to our cause. I hope that this current discourse doesn’t undermine the integrity of your efforts, and I hope will not discourage you from continuing your vital support.
Our mission is to get this theater built for the benefit of Novato.
President, Novato Theater