Announcement: Improvements to Over 29 Doors

Since 2004, Jersey City hasn’t been able to find the funding it’s supposed to for making important repairs that will bring the Loew’s Jersey Theatre into compliance with the City’s own building code requirements.  This is a necessary step before the Loew’s can expand operations to include larger scale programming.

In contrast, during that same time Friends of the Loew’s won $780,000 in grants from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund. We later let the City partner with us in those grants when it promised to add in significant fund to make even more repairs. But even though the City failed do this, we’ve kept our agreement to work with the City in carrying out the work of the County grants.

There are two pieces of good news, and one very worrisome development about the grants FOL has won for the Loew’s.

The good news: We’ve replaced all of the rotted old exit doors along the first floor side walls of the Loew’s, plus two stage load-in doors. If you’ve been to the Theatre, you probably noticed how those old doors were literally falling off their hinges. The new doors are a tremendous improvement in appearance, safety and functionality. FOL paid for the architectural design for the doors, and the County grant paid for their installation.

And more good news: There are plans and specs ready to go for five more important projects to improve safety and functionality that FOL’s County grant funding will pay for: Repair the Theatre’s fire standpipes; install new emergency lighting; repair and upgrade the air circulating fan to improve ventilation and heating; renovate the stage rigging system to ensure safe and reliable show operation; and restore the Theatre’s bronze entrance doors so that they open and close smoothly and safely.

The City, under our partnership agreement, has already picked a winning bid and authorized a contract for the restoration of the entrance doors. But Mayor Steven Fulop is refusing to allow any of these projects to move forward, even though the grants are set to expire this summer if work isn’t under way!

The Mayor has tried to explain that he thinks he can get “economy of scale” by waiting to do those safety projects sometime in the future, when the City might it’s foolish to hold back for any reason on work that will improve safety AND make it easier to operate the Loew’s.  It’s even worse when doing so may mean that we lose the grants!

From the Archives: Non-Profit Model vs. For Profit Model

What Is A For Profit Theatre Operation?

Is is strictly a business; Wants to make money, needs to do nothing else because:

    • Someone or a group wants to draw a profit on the business
    • Earned  income is its only means of paying bills

Marginal business with poor track record in Northern New Jersey.

It must maximize income while minimizing costs.

No incentive to address the needs of the community because it cannot afford to address them.

    • Mayor Schundler suggested that the “Department of Culture” could use the Loew’s four times a year; This hardly addressed the needs of the community.

Limited programming.

Implications for the Loew’s Jersey:

Limited diversity in programming

    • No programs which do not make money but are otherwise desirable: i.e., quality/children’s programming, multi-cultural, discounts for seniors/students, etc.
    • Programming mix will not be analogous to Bergen PAC (John Harms Center)

Limits diversity i n audiences, limiting economic “spin-off” for Journal Square

Places a landmark building in jeopardy

    • No incentive to adequate maintain (general wear and tear)
    • No incentive to limit, control or at least repair damage caused by incoming shows

Jeopardizes legal responsibility to the New Jersey Historic Trust


What Is A Non-Profit Theatre Operation?

Is more than “just” a business:

    • Has a mission to include programming that is desirable even if that programming won’t make money

Earns income in same ways that for profit theatre does BUT ALSO has opportunity to receive contributions/increased sponsorship opportunities.

Not for profit theatres have a fairly successful track record in Northern New Jersey.

Implications for the Loew’s Jersey:

Far more divers programming

    • Opportunity to seek sponsorship for regular schedule of quality children’s programming, multi-cultural, discounts for seniors/students, etc.

Much more diverse audiences and likelihood of more frequent programs, greatly enhancing opportunity for economic “spin-off” to Journal Square.

Part of mission is the preservation of the Loew’s as an important landmark to Jersey City and all New Jersey; Therefore:

    • Has determination as well as reponsibility to maintain (general wear and tear)
    • Has the opportunity to solicit contributions to help pay for this maintenance
    • Has incentive to limit, control or at least repair damage by incoming shows

Supports legal responsibility to the New Jersey Historic Trust


 

Fundamentals for ANY Not-For-Profit:

Idea that will benefit community but won’t make money.  Will necessitate the need to raise money.

    • Understandable
    • Relevant
    • Interesting/Engaging
    • Seems Do-able
    • Practical Goals/Benchmarks
    • Credibility
    • Organization
    • Means of Involving
    • Visible
    • Community Involvement/Support
    • Leadership in the development sense

Development:

A professional process, set of practices that all not-for-profits must go through in order to prepare for successful fundraising and operation.

    • Refines Mission Statement
    • Improves Goals
    • Identifies Weaknesses
    • Case Refinement/Testing
    • Builds on Community Links
    • Additional Leadership Recruitment
    • Works With Leadership
    • Peer Connections/Prospect Development
    • Foundation Research
    • Corporate Research
    • Fundraising:  Gifting, Grant Writing, Etc.

 

In 1994, after the Loew’s had finally been saved and the Lease Agreement between JCEDC (Jersey City Economic Development Center) and the City was signed, the Loew’s project had Friends of the Loew’s  idea to benefit the community, a draft of programming goals prepared by Friends of the Loew’s and $2 million in capitol funding.

It had little else in terms of the fundamentals of a not-for-profit:

    • A Dead Building
    • Projected Renovation Cost of At Least $5 Million
    • Many Unknowns About Renovation Work
    • An Image of a “Money Pit” Created By Opponents
    • No Specific Operating Plan
    • No Means of Even Limited Operation
    • Only Semblance of Organization – FOL
    • No Means of Involvement
    • Limited Community Support
    • No Leadership in the Development Sense
    • No Basis for Fundraising

 

January, 1994:  The Lease Agreement

The Lease Agreement was far more than just a “lease”.  It included a schedule of construction work to be completed with $2 million.  It also laid out a process to put in place the fundamentals required of any not-for-profit and carry out development/fundraising.

The Lease Agreement was written by Tom Ahern based on FOL’s understanding of not-for-profit fundamentals and the operations of other theatres.  It required the participation of the Mayor’s Office and JCEDC and FOL.

Underlying Principle: 

Assumed Architects, Marketing/Public Relations, Development and Theatre Operations Consultants would work with a Steering Committee to create the fundamentals of a not-for-profit operation:

    • Development professional would help refine the mission to ensure the project was Understandable and Relevant.
    • Market surveys and architectural cost estimates would make the projects seem Do-Able.
    • Projection of programming mix would make the project Interesting.
    • Professional Business and architectural plans would set preminary Goals and Benchmarks for construction and fundraising and lend Credibility.
    • Initial Organization would be provided by JCEDC while Development and Theatre consultants outlined a long-term structure for Organization.
    • Working with consultants would provide the means of Involvement.
    • Visibility would come from progress reports, press releases, speaking engagements, etc.
    • Community Support would be stimulated by surveys, seminars, etc.
    • Leadership would emerge and be cultivated in this process.

Further Development work such as Additional Leadership Recruitment, Peer Connections/Prospect Development, Foundation Research, Corporate Research, Fundraising, Gifting, Grant Writing, etc.) would proceed.

The Lease Agreement also intertwined creation of not-for-profit fundamentals with the $2 million construction by requiring that the process ensure that the schedule of work could be completed within budget.

The Lease Agreement set out an approach to creating the fundamentals for a non-profit and undertaking further development that was

    • High End
    • Thorough
    • Expensive
    • Similar to NJPAC

This was never implemented.

Prepared by Colin Egan, 1999