IVCCD should commit to Orpheum’s success

One of the added attractions and selling points of Marshalltown has become the renovated and lively Orpheum Theater. Under the vision and enthusiastic leadership of Executive Director Pip Gordon, the outreach to the community continues to grow in ways too numerous to list. But after the article in the T-R spelling out the Orpheum’s deficit budget, I am concerned about its future: its vision, its coffee shop, its outreach, its role in the development of East Main Street and the community.

The Iowa Valley Community College District committed to a long-term plan in supporting the vision of the Orpheum and aiding in its success. Chancellor Duree acknowledged the unique status the Orpheum has brought to Marshalltown. He also said “…the college leadership at the time the bond passed may not have been as forward-looking as it could have been when it comes to the budget and operation of the theater.” The Orpheum was part of the $35 million IVCCD bond issue with $3 million going to renovation.The article did not mention how much of the bond issue money was also committed to getting the Orpheum launched. Surely there was money designated for preparing the facility, hiring staff, setting out a several year plan to accomplish the vision that such an undertaking requires. It takes several years for programs to get started, mature, find funding, grow support and become successful. The Orpheum was to have five to seven years to reach a sustainable success level. It is only into its third year.

I encourage IVCCD to honor its commitment to the Orpheum and supporters of the bond issue. Lack of foresight on the part of IVCCD should not result in premature abandonment of the program. I love the Orpheum. It has the best coffee in town. I’m addicted to its peanut butter wraps. I love taking a good book to read surrounded by the memorabilia that reminds me of growing up in Marshalltown. On a lonely Sunday afternoon, for a very low cost, I can watch a movie from the past.

Without the theater and the supporting coffee shop, each providing the visual framework for what we call the Orpheum, it’s like puncturing a balloon and looking at the shriveled-up blob and saying, “Well, we still have a balloon.” I hope this is not the future of the Orpheum.