The following update on the status of The Empire Strikes Back initiative was recently updated by organizer Mikey Hulsmeier.
Hi All, I know it’s been long in coming but here goes.
In November of 2011 I asked for those interested in being a part of the restoration of the Empire Theatre to come to a meeting at the Boatyard on Bay Street. The primary reason I did this was because I had a meeting with Mr Jim McGowan of BEAT Foundation and found his proposal to be quite exciting and thought that the creative community and friends should have a look at it. I figured if we all got on board it would show Government that we could unite for something positive and would be willing to work along with BEAT to have the Empire restored.
The plan was for Mr McGowan to come to the meeting and show his proposal and tell of his ideas…while in turn listening to some ideas that we may have. This did not materialize as Mr McGowan thought that my radical approach to creating awareness may jeopardize BEAT’s possible progress with The Ministry Of Culture to whom he had presented his proposal. The show of support at The Boatyard that day was very encouraging…. I think we had a great buzz going at that time and it is indeed unfortunate that Mr McGowan was not able to show his plan.
Anyway out of all the noise and agitation came a meeting with Minister Of Culture Stephen Lashley which was attended at short notice by Varia Williams, Adrian Boo Husbands and myself. After about 2 hours we came away feeling quite confident that the Minister and his Ministry were in agreement that the Empire should be restored and we were given the opportunity to either (a) present our own proposal within 4 weeks OR (b) join with one of the 2 proposals which had already been presented….those being BEAT’s and one to turn the place into a micro brewery. We were also told that we would not succeed with any proposal unless we could show where the money was gonna come from. So the idea of allowing us to have the building and THEN raise funds to restore it was not an option. In my mind this took us back to square one. BEAT already had a proposal which would benefit the artistic community….plans in place…financial backers…the works. So…what would be the point of trying to submit the same proposal when we could go over BEAT’s proposal and if in agreement with it we stand together with them and move forward.
There is no doubt in my mind that BEAT’s position looks way better with the support of the creative community than without it. Power in numbers. I did also meet with the other party involved…that of the micro brewery idea…to see if we could perhaps all work together….Everyone thought this could be an option but there was no real thrust to make it happen.
After coming to the realization that this whole shit was way more political than I was willing to deal with and also owing to some health concerns and lack of focus on my music I decided to drop the ball and step back from it all for a while. A lot of energy had been burned and I needed to regain it and come back fresh. It looks as though some decision will soon be made by Government on the future of The Empire Theatre and I think right now is our opportunity to get in motion and make something happen that will benefit us in the long run. It’s either BEAT or Micro Brewery.
I vote BEAT. Now is the time to meet and look at their proposal before it’s too late.