Future of Vineyard Haven's Capawock Theater discussed
Tisbury business owners met with the owners of the Capawock Theater in Vineyard Haven recently to discuss ways to make the theater a healthier and more viable business.
The theater has been closed for renovations for a year, and its owners, the Hall family, said a re-opening date is yet to be set. Even when the projectors do start rolling again, the owners said it might not be economically possible to stay in business.
The Halls met with members of the Tisbury Business Association (TBA) on Nov. 10 to discuss ways to make the movie theater a more practical business.
This week, Ben Hall Jr. said that no decisions were made, and there is still no opening date for the theater, but that he was encouraged by the meeting. "What came out of the meeting was a very positive sense of encouragement from everybody," said Mr. Hall. "There were a lot of general ideas of ways that we could enhance things."
Mr. Hall said that one idea that was discussed was the possibility of selling movie club memberships through other Island businesses. He said that they also discussed selling individual tickets at other locations. Mr. Hall said that the meeting was essentially a brainstorming session, and that any plans still needed to be developed before being implemented.
Mr. Hall said that in the meantime work is continuing on the theater. Most recently, the town finished installing the sidewalk and concrete apron in front of the theater. Mr. Hall said that the work would allow renovations to the ticket counter and the snack bar to proceed.
He said that structural repairs, where a utility cable had pulled on the front of the building, still needed to be completed along with other renovations and repairs.
"There is still a lot of stuff to be done, but they're chipping away at it," said Mr. Hall. "It's an ongoing project, and work is ongoing."
This week, Steve Perlman, TBA president, also called the meeting with the Halls encouraging. "They are working diligently to get the theater open, and we just wanted to let them know that we support them," he said.
Asked to comment on the importance of the movie theater to other downtown businesses, Mr. Perlman said, "Most businesses in Vineyard Haven support each other. To have stores around helps the restaurants, and to have people come into the restaurants helps those stores. The movie theater has a draw, and it is a major support for other business. They all feed off each other."
However, Mr. Perlman did not blame the closed theater for any significant impacts to other business. "I wouldn't want to say that the loss of business in town is a direct result of the loss of the movie theater," he said. "Although we welcome the Capawock, and we think it will help business, and we feel we can help it, we don't think that it is an anchor in the sense that it is driving the economy of Vineyard Haven."
Mr. Perlman said that business has declined in town, but he blamed it on a drop in traffic coming to the Island. "We think that what has really affected us has been the loss of traffic to the Island itself," he said. "The Island needs to do something as a whole to increase the traffic to the Island."