In case you missed it, Forum owner's message

| 20 Comments
Yesterday, the owner of the Forum, Peter Loewy, left a comment on an older article regarding the future of the theater.  Because the Forum is a vital cog in Metuchen's downtown, we wanted to highlight his message.  Here it is:

Many have commented to me that they would like to see The Forum Theatre once again open it's doors as a performing arts center. It is my intention to do just that. I am looking into refurbishing the existing motion picture and sound equipment, the lighting system as well as a general sprucing up of the interior as well as the exterior. We do however need the help of the Town Council, the community and hopefully the Middlesex County Freeholders.

Several Metuchen council members have expressed a very serious interest in the revival of The Forum. A downtown theatre can and should be an asset to the entire community. Look at New Brunswick, Union or Princeton, all communities that are grateful a performing arts institution is in their town. Right now there are many vacant store fronts throughout Metuchen. That was not the case when the theatre was in it's prime. My intention is to start a grass roots movement to Save The Forum Theatre. Alex Dawson of The Raconteur Book Shop on Main Street survives with the support of patrons he has nurtured over the years. Many of whom travel to Metuchen from out of town. It's time to make Metuchen a destination point, not just a commuter train stop with plenty of parking for commuters and very little for businesses.

We need to support ALL businesses throughout town, not just the theatre but the restaurants and the bookshop in an effort to revitalize what was once a thriving hometown shopping district. 

The theatre is looking for help from anyone and everyone that would like to get involved with our mission of bringing stimulating, entertaining and educational programming back to the heart of Metuchen. 

We would like to put in new seats, carpeting and bring back the Forum Cafe' for patrons attending performances. All of this takes money and hard work. I know we could not have picked a more difficult time than now to raise money for The Forum but volunteer work and donations are just as appreciated. Historically The Arts have thrived during hard economic times. People need an outlet to forget their problems for a couple of hours. That is my intent as well, to make the Forum an Arts Institution where you can bring your children to a musical, see an Independent Film, enjoy a concert or just laugh at Comedy Night.
My email is pjloewy@aol.com if anyone is interested in getting involved.
With your help I will bring back The Forum as a viable affordable performing arts center the entire community can be proud of.

Thanks
Peter Loewy

In response to comment regarding the need for Borough Council involvement, Mr. Loewy added:

I simply need their [Borough Council] support. I have always tried to stay away from governmental involvement. Many theatres have closed since their funding dropped out from the State and Local Governments. I don't want a bailout, this is a private business after all. I am seeking out anyone who would like to get involved either helping out financially or voluntarily.

20 Comments

Lauren
Thanks for the comment. I hope you can attend our town hall meeting on May 14th at 7PM at the theatre.

Absolutely! I would love to see some live music at the Forum. Something like Tarrytown Music Hall or Emelin Theatre. I have only been to the Forum a handful of times (mostly when there was live music- Dar Williams, Jill Sobule). Profit or not, I would be willing to volunteer if I had a clear understanding of what the Forum would become and the types of shows it would offer.

Would love to see some more live concerts at that place. Maybe some rock shows too. Maybe even get some local bands, could even do a fundraiser.

FYI Peter, don't sweat the inane comments, lots of negative nannies around Metuchen these days. They got a beef with everything, schools, superintendent, mayor, council, library, cops, taxes, parks, roads, trees.....you name it.

Good luck with any future happenings at the Forum!

By the way I posted that last comment.

Really? Over 23 years we produced nothing that interested the community. Have you ever been to the theatre? Ever? When we produced year round children's theatre? Independent films? Robert Kleins HBO special? New Jersey premiere plays and musicals? Over 150 productions? Concerts? Special events?


Many people have rented the theatre with absolutely no problem? Arduous?
Really? I have never heard that before.

It's interesting to me that so many have so much to say with nothing to back it up. They won't use even use their name.

If you have any constructive ideas for the theatre or a business plan, I would be very open to discussing it. But please when you comment know the facts.

Many people volunteered to help out at Boro Hardware after the fire, and that is a for-profit enterprise. We offered to volunteer to help La Rosa, but they didn't take us up on it. But I see your point - in general people don't volunteer to help businesses, they volunteer to help charities.

I don't see the incentive for people to volunteer. It's going to be owned by the same people and it's going to operated by the same theater company.

They did not produce much that interested the town when they were up and running, what assurances would there be that they would do so now? It's a lot to ask people to give their time and money to a project that is just going to be an outlet for the theater company's productions.

I know they are saying they'll have other things, but are they going to have a better business model to attract those things than before? Before events had to go to them, and even then if you tried to rent the theater it was an arduous process. I hope I'm wrong and that there can be some assurances that things will be different.

Maybe they should put together a plan to repay volunteers with tickets to events?

I may be wrong, but I don't think the owners of the Forum have any interest in selling the building to Metuchen. Of course, maybe Peter will post here saying the same thing, just not as nice.

Its kind of hard to say that people should not volunteer to improve the building. Without the building (and its seating, equipment etc.) the theater can not function. What good is putting on a show if there are no seats for the audience to sit in? Curtains, lighting and such are kind of needed for the performances.

I can't support my tax money going to purchase the Forum in this economy. It would be enough of a subsidy if it were tax exempt.

The Paper Mill was tax-exempt even before Millburn purchased it.

Paper Mill Playhouse was purchased by the Township of Millburn for $9 million in July 2008. They now lease the property back to the non-profit theater group. Metuchen should do the same thing for the Forum!

You support local business when you can?

What happens for other local business if the Forum Theater has a house full of kids and when the show is over, those 400 or so kids now want to get ice cream or pizza? You think maybe those people support our local business? What happens when there is a show in the evening and people are coming in from surrounding areas? You think some of those people would be eating in our restaurants before or after the show? Think some of them would have drinks at Novita or other places?

A strong theater would life up all other of our places, you want to talk about supporting your community, well, I can't think of anything else that would do a better job than a theater (unless of course we build a stadium for a professional team, but I don't think that will happen).

The people and the town should support the Forum for no other reason other than it would be incredibly good for Metuchen.

Article in the Home News about the State Theatre having financial problems. The building is owned by Middlesex County and pays no property taxes.

http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20090329/NEWS/903290314&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL

Sheesh - no need to get snarky.

Look, I pay taxes to the town as well. Big deal. I'm not asking people to volunteer to come and fix up my house.

The owner of The Forum theater stated in his letter:

"We would like to put in new seats, carpeting and bring back the Forum Cafe' for patrons attending performances. All of this takes money and hard work. I know we could not have picked a more difficult time than now to raise money for The Forum but volunteer work and donations are just as appreciated."

So a private, for-profit entity that owns The Forum building is asking for volunteers and donations to make capital improvements to the real estate.

Again -- I support local businesses and would like to see The Forum (and the arts) succeed just as much as the next guy. I'd patronize them if there were anything of interest established there. A vibrant establishment at The Forum would definitely improve the town (and property values). I just don't think a for-profit entity asking for donations and volunteers is justified, when there are non-profits out there who need our help and money.

If the theater company is the non-profit entity, then of course it makes sense that the company itself would ask for volunteers or donations, perhaps to put on shows or advertise. But the owner of the building is asking for donations and volunteers to make improvements/repairs to the building itself.

The Paper Mill building was tax-exempt according to NJ by the Numbers.

For those of you who have no idea what your talking about let me clarify.
The Forum Theatre Company has always been a not for profit entity. The building is privately owned, pays taxes to the town. and gets rent.
Th Papermill Playhouse is a not for profit organization. The building is not.

Usually a town is enhanced by a Performing Arts Center. Property values go up, restaurants and other businesses throughout Metuchen benefit and we have an theatre that anyone from Metuchen can easily walk to.

If the quality of life is enriched by The Forum than it should be supported.
We are not asking for hand outs, we are asking for help to bring the arts back to The Forum Theatre

Thanks

"The building is for profit, the theater is non-profit."

Can you explain what this means?

Are the building and the theater company owned by two separate entities? Does the building rent the space (for profit) to the non-profit theater?

In any event, it sounds like at least the building itself is a for-profit concern. I would like to see The Forum turned into something vibrant as much as anyone else, but I wouldn't volunteer for a for-profit business when there are so many non-profit groups out there who could use our help.

Hopefully, the owner will come up with a business plan that works to turn a profit for him in a way that will contribute to the community. But if not, and if it would require volunteers and donations to create such a space, it'd be nice if it were done under control of a non-profit institution.

Just my 2-cents.

The building is for profit, the theater is non-profit.

That's too bad. I could see people contributing their time, effort, and money toward helping to bring back The Forum, but not for someone else's profit.

It must not be, they pay $16,000 in property taxes.

Is The Forum Theatre owned by a non-profit organization?

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  • Peter Loewy: Lauren Thanks for the comment. I hope you can attend read more
  • Lauren Marcus: Absolutely! I would love to see some live music at read more
  • Anonymous: Would love to see some more live concerts at that read more
  • Peter J Loewy: By the way I posted that last comment. read more
  • Anonymous: Really? Over 23 years we produced nothing that interested the read more
  • Anonymous: Many people volunteered to help out at Boro Hardware after read more
  • Anonymous: I don't see the incentive for people to volunteer. It's read more
  • Anonymous: I may be wrong, but I don't think the owners read more
  • Anonymous: I can't support my tax money going to purchase the read more
  • Anonymous: Paper Mill Playhouse was purchased by the Township of Millburn read more

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