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Letter from Friends of the Cerrito Theater

1711 Arlington Boulevard
El Cerrito CA 94530

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The Friends of the Cerrito Theater is backing efforts to preserve this historic theater. We would like to see the city buy the building, then lease it to a theater operator. The operator of the Parkway Theater is Oakland, we believe, might still be interested in the site.

I would like to emphasize that saving the Cerrito Theater is more than an economic issue. The City should not simply try to pencil out its costs and dollar benefits to see whether the theater is worth saving. That short-sighted strategy ignores the much greater historical-artistic and community benefits of saving this wonderful building.

Economics is an important issue, of course. A theater would have a significant economic benefit on the neighborhood, would stimulate development, attract restaurants and cafes, and bring attention to the area.

But there are at least two other perhaps more significant aspects:

-- The historic and artistic. This is one of the most historic and artistically important buildings in El Cerrito. Its value goes way beyond its dollar-and-cents worth of simply serving as a theater. As a historic building with intrinsic value, its value will only increase with time. Art Deco theaters will be much rarer in the future than they are now. Its historical value will increase exponentially.

Who can tell what uses the building will serve in 50 or 100 years? A museum? A community space?

-- The benefit to the community. Just as the theater would boost business in the area, it would boost community pride and provide El Cerrito with a place on the Bay Area map. People would recognize the theater marquee, would come to town to admire the murals and the Art Deco ambiance. El Cerrito would have an enhanced sense of place, and something to be proud of. It would also retain an important part of its cultural history.

Run dates: 2002-03-01 - 2002-03-15

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