The manager of the Temple Theatre addressed the city council at their latest meeting over concerns that the future of the theatre may be in jeopardy. Ten years ago, Roger Smith moved to Meridian and purchased the Temple Theatre to continue running it as a 501c3 non-profit. However, the theatre is not bringing in enough funds to maintain the nearly $10,000 it needs every month. “The Temple Theatre was voted by Cosmopolitan magazine as the coolest theatre in the whole state, yet it doesn’t get any recognition from government entities as being so.” With no money coming in from the state, the theatre relies exclusively on ticket sales and small fundraisers throughout the year, and, sometimes, Smith’s pockets.“It can be purchased by another entity that’s going to run it as a 501c3. I’m sixty-two, and I’m looking for someone that’s bigger and better than me.”
In the past ten years, Smith has put around $300,000 into renovations. He believes the city should take over, or, simply help out by hosting some meetings and city events inside the theatre. He says he has spoken with the city throughout the years about them taking over and running it, but that nothing has yet come of the discussions. He said with a theatre this size, normally a city or a college take ownership. Another major issue, he says, is a negative perception that outsiders have of Meridian.
“They hear that this is a crime center, and they go elsewhere. It’s not the state, and it’s not the theatre because they love the theatre, but they have this negative perception that I think is hurting the city—I know it is.” Smith claims one of the major dance competitions they were to host pulled out because they were afraid to come to Meridian. He simply wants the city to help in funding and to help in bringing a change. “I would advise them to set up a standing council of some kind to change this perception. You know, perception becomes reality. I don’t think Meridian is a dangerous city.” For more information on how you can volunteer with the Temple Theatre, call their box office at 601-693-5353 or visit their website, www.meridiantempletheater.com.