Art Theater Co-op effort draws strong candidates for inaugural board

Art Theater Co-op effort draws strong candidates for inaugural board

I finally did it. I became on Sunday an owner of the new Art Theater Co-op, shortly before 16 of the 18 candidates for its inaugural board of directors introduced themselves to other owners.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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I think most of the 60 folks in the theater, where the 90-minute membership meeting took place, were as impressed with the candidates as I was. There’s not a loser among them.

The 16 who spoke on Sunday bring strong credentials to the table. Many of them have experience in business or non-profits, and many have deep knowledge of film.

For examples, one developed and taught film courses at the high school level; another worked as an intern and grant program coordinator at the Austin Film Society; another makes films; and another is a former projectionist at the Art Theater.

One candidate suggested, somewhat jokingly, amending the bylaws to allow 18 board members; there will be nine. It’s a reasonable suggestion, considering the strength of the candidates.

They are, in alphabetical order, Robert K. Balsbaugh, Luke Boyce, Joanna Ebizie, Peter Folk, Ben Galewsky, Colleen Gibbons, Jason Greenly, Tim Hartin, Jan Kalmar, Joshua Lietz, Mark Rhodes, Dan Schreiber, Ron Szoke, David Thiel, David J. Ward, Penny A. Watkins-Zdrojewski, Audrey Wells and Nancy Willamon.

Galewsky, who gave current Art Theater operator Sanford Hess the idea of transforming the movie house into a co-op, has said that if he is elected he will not seek the chairmanship of the co-op board. He is chair of the board of directors of the Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana.

Only Art Theater Co-op owners may vote for the board. You have to join before or on March 25 because voting will end at midnight that day. Voting started March 11.

Owners — there are now more than 565 — may cast paper ballots, available at the theater, or vote online. There is no online link to the ballot or to the candidate information; only owners receive the links to that via email.

There is information, however, about the nascent cooperative at the Art Theater website, at

Among the inaugural board’s duties will be:

— Developing a final business plan.

— Negotiating the lease with Art Theater building owner David Kraft.

— Selecting and purchasing a digital projector.

— Doing outreach to build the owner base.

— Hiring a general manager.

— Drafting policy.

— Developing strategy.

— Delegating operations.

The board will not be involved in day-to-day operations of the cooperative, including choosing which films to show. That will be left to the general manager. Hess has said he will not apply for that job.



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