Our view: Theater deal: more good news on local arts scene

By The Daily Triplicate January 17, 2009 12:11 pm

Is it too soon to say that Crescent City is experiencing a renaissance of the arts?

Maybe, but the Lighthouse Repertory Theatre’s announcement Friday of its purchase of an old downtown moviehouse is great news, and it comes after a series of other art-friendly developments in our little town.

But first, to the theater.

LRT, you may recall, was on the verge of buying Red’s Showcase Twin Cinemas in 2007 when fund-raising efforts fell short.

This time around, the organization made sure it had its funding in place before the “Sale Pending” sign went up at the big blue building on G Street.

The plan remains the same: Remove the building’s partition to restore a single theater space with seating initially for 240 people. Build a  production area. Arrange for after-hours parking on nearby business properties.

It should be a grand venue for LRT’s productions — staged for years in the Crescent Elk Middle School auditorium — as well as events hosted by the Del Norte Association for Cultural Awareness and other groups.

LRT and the seller, the Thomas family estate, deserve a prolonged ovation for their perseverance in getting the deal done. The transaction raises the profile of community theater in Crescent City and means one less vacant downtown building — a prominent one at that.

This is just the latest good news emanating from the local arts scene. When the renovated Fred Endert Municipal Pool reopens next month, visitors will be treated to two significant new pieces of public art: a tile mural by Harley Munger depicting Battery Point Lighthouse, and a 115-foot-wide poolside mural featuring 80-plus creatures from the ocean depths.

Dozens of volunteers have been working feverishly to complete the latter work in time for the pool’s grand opening. It was designed by Garretta Lamore, and the work is being directed by coordinator Chuck Keely. It’ll be the latest of many murals created by volunteer artists that grace various sites around town.

Most of those artists are members of the Coast Redwoods Art Association, which runs the Crescent Harbor Art Gallery at 140 Marine Way.

The gallery recently got good news of its own when the Harbor Commission voted to extend its lease for three months while negotiations on a new one continue.

At one point during a protracted dispute over a new lease, the art association was considering moving the gallery to a location on Northcrest Drive.

It now appears likely that the gallery will stay where it belongs, in the harbor and thus in the forefront of efforts to pull more tourists off of Highway 101.

The harbor, in fact, now has the potential to have its own art district, because next door to the gallery is Talking Crow Studio, which celebrated its grand opening in November and offers studio space for people to throw clay or take part in one of owner Rika Blue’s many workshops.

Display art in the harbor. Performing arts in a new venue downtown. Murals all over Crescent City.

The curtain may be rising on something big here.