I discovered a group on Facebook, started by Michael McDonald, which is focused on saving the Paramount Theatre on King’s Square.
Since then he has been receiving a lot of media attention – and it has people talking – talking about what to do with the theatre.
Currently (and for a long time now), the theatre has been closed and boarded up. Located in such a prime location in uptown Saint John, it could be restored for many possible uses.
I agree with Mr. McDonald that it’s time to make something out of the building!
Below is the article from today’s Telegraph-Journal:
SAINT JOHN – A campaign that started only eight days ago on the social networking site Facebook to find a new life for the shuttered Paramount Theatre on King’s Square now has more than 2,600 members.
Michael McDonald has started a Facebook group in hopes of drumming up interest to save the old Paramount Theatre.
“It was crazy, it was just like a viral, I had no idea,” said Michael McDonald, a local member of the film and music communities who started the page.
Many of the responses are people sharing their memories of some event at the theatre.
“There is a huge emotional connection to the building, everybody has a story about the building and pretty much all of them are in agreement that it could function as a multi-faceted arts centre,” he said.
McDonald believes Saint John is big enough for more than one arts venue.
“I think there is a place for the Paramount,” he said.
The Imperial Theatre on the other side of the square is pretty well booked most of the time, so the Paramount could host other events coming to town looking for a smaller space, he said. It could also be home to a film society and perhaps show independent films, like the Oxford Theatre in Halifax.
It can’t come back exclusively as a movie theatre because that’s what it was when it closed, he said.
“It has to be multi-functioning,” he said. “It has to pay for itself.”
For a city like Saint John, which is so proud of its heritage, it would be a shame to lose the theater with its great art deco interior, he said.
The next step is to put together a committee to take it to the next level, find out if the owner is willing to sell and move on to a fundraising campaign, McDonald said.
“If 2,000 people are interested in saving this building then that’s a strong indication that it should be saved,” he said.
Last week it all started with this posting. “The Kings Square Cinema (the old Paramount) is dying a slow death. I walk by it every day and it breaks my heart that such a grand old building is being left to rot. The same thing happened to the Odeon Theater across the square. The Odeon was the oldest cinema in Canada. It is now a parking lot. Parking lots make lots of money but if we care about culture in this city we can find a more creative way to make the space viable. We need you, the people to start a ground swell. That’s what this page is for.”
I say well done to Michael McDonald for stepping up and working to make this city a better place!