The DDA operates the historic theater on Main Street, which is owned by the city. DDA board members gathered Thursday morning at the theater to discuss the project at their monthly meeting and were met by a concerned city official.
Canton Councilman Bob Rush said he had read a news article that reported on small movie theaters in crisis because of an industry transition to digital equipment, which can run from $80,000 to $100,000.
“I’m just wondering if we go to something that’s not digital, if we’re chasing our tail and going to not be able to get the type of movies that we might want to be getting because they don’t come out on the equipment that we’re going to purchase,” he said. “I don’t know much about it but I wanted to throw out a caution flag.”
DDA board and movie committee member Lewis Cline assured the councilman that any equipment the theater purchases would be digital and up-to-date. He also added that the theater already contains the existing framework to show movies, including speakers and amplifiers.
“There’s a lot of infrastruture that’s already in,” Cline said. “This is all digital, top state-of-the-art that we’re looking at. Hopefully the price tag will be lower than that.”
The board agreed to finalize the movie budget proposal before submitting it to the Canton City Council, which was requested by council members.
The theater showed movies for decades during its early history before experiencing a decline in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1997, the city acquired the theater and completed renovations in 2000 to turn it into a performing arts facility.
In other business, DDA board members heard a brief report about a proposal to add lights to the roughly 40 trees along Main Street.
The project will cost $11,700, according to Canton Tourism Inc.
Bill Grant, president of Canton Main Street, which is coordinating the project, said the year-round, light-emitting diode lights could be installed within the next few weeks.
Funding will be paid for by hotel/motel tax revenues, said Pat Gold, secretary of Canton Tourism.
Another related project involves outlining the exterior rooftops of downtown building with similar lights. The cost is estimated at $9,800, said Gold.
On Thursday, DDA board members said they weren’t opposed to such lights on the theater but expressed concern regarding how the lights would affect the overall aesthetics of the historic area.
They voted to look at how the tree lights project turns out before deciding whether to approve the theater’s participating in the building lights project.
Gold said the response from downtown building owners and merchants to the building lights proposal has been positive so far.
“There are some questions that need to be answered about the rooftop installation of the lights,” she said. “We haven’t a had negative response and a very positive response to lighting the trees.”
Grant said the tree lights project will be a great addition to downtown.
“One of the issues we struggle with downtown is that it’s very dark at night so it should provide a lot more ambient lighting, which I think will be very, very nice,” he said. “It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.”