Council approves Farmington Civic Theater loan

Farmington city council members on Monday approved a second loan to keep the lights on at the Farmington Civic Theater.

A $64,000 loan in October helped the iconic movie house cover expenses after a six-month closure due to state COVID-19 restrictions. The Civic re-opened for just over three weeks when another pandemic surge closed it down again.

The theater reopened February 1, but city manager David Murphy said attendance has lagged. As a result, the theater is losing about $10,000 a month.

“People don’t want to come to the theater right now, they’re still leery,” he said. “I just don’t see closing the theater.”

The theater would repay the $90,000 loan over three years, with a 1 percent interest rate. City treasurer Chris Weber said that’s standard with loans between funds. The city also expects to receive around $1 million from the American Rescue Act, which could pay back the loan.

Mayor Pro Tem Joe LaRussa asked whether $90,000 was enough and whether staff had done an analysis about the theater’s long-term needs.

Weber said the city would transfer $100,000 by the end of this fiscal year and budgeted another $150,000 for next year. “Whatever happens beyond that, we’ll have to judge as we go.”

Murphy said theater manager Scott Freeman is also pursuing grants.

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