A friend of mine recently wrote a column in which he criticized the school system for hosting free movie days at the new Thomaston-Upson Fine Arts Center (FAC). The basis for his criticism was the high cost ($8.1 million) of the facility, that it was paid for with our tax dollars through the one cent educational Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), and that it should not be used for such things as free movie days.
I’m going to have to disagree with him on this. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the school system showing free movies at the FAC.
I’ll admit, when I first heard the idea, I had some concerns about it, but those concerns dealt mainly with the issue of there already being a movie theater in town - The Ritz Theatre, and that the school system should not be in competition with The Ritz. But when I heard what movies they would be showing, it eased my mind some. The Neals, who own The Ritz, pride themselves in showing only first-run movies at the theater, and the movies the school system is showing are far from first run. In fact, most of us probably already have the movies at home on DVD. So I didn’t see any competition there.
I like the idea of the free movies, because it gives a chance for people who might not ordinarily come to the FAC to visit it and see what their sales tax dollars paid for. By that I mean that while the Thomaston-Upson Arts Council (TUAC) may present their plays and musicals at the FAC, not everybody attends those performances. And while different school groups may perform at the FAC, not everyone attends those events. So the free movie nights gives those people who don’t attend other functions an opportunity to come check out our beautiful new Fine Arts Center.
My buddy also mentioned that they sell refreshments at the movies, and that movie-goers can take their popcorn and candy and drinks back to their seats with them. I have the same concern he does, in that if this is the case, if people aren’t careful with what they are doing, our new, clean FAC could turn into a trash bin, with oily stained seats and sticky floors.
I’ve been to three events at the Fine Arts Center – the middle school’s Veterans Day program, TUAC’s Sounds of the Season concert, and the Robinson School of Dance Christmas recitals. I remember there being refreshments sold during the Sounds of the Season, but I also remember the announcer reminding attendees that refreshments must be consumed in the area out front, and could not be brought into the auditorium. I hope they are upholding the same rules for the movies. And they way they did it for the Sounds of the Season concert was to have an intermission halfway through, to give people a chance to get up and get something. I remember back when I was a youngster and would attend movies in Atlanta with my folks, that there was always an intermission in the middle of the movies. That might not be a bad idea to have here, too.
At any rate, I’m glad the school system is having free movie days at the FAC. It gives those who don’t attend school functions, concerts, plays, or recitals a chance to enjoy what they helped pay for with their tax dollars. After all, the Fine Arts Center is for everybody.