Local view: Why restore the NorShor?The NorShor Theatre is not only at the center of our city; for many of us, it is the heart of our community. As with any centenarian, it has led a complex life, some of it prosperous and parts of it tumultuous. But by all accounts, it has been a legendary journey.
By: Gary Doty, Marcia Doty, Jerry Peterson and Tim Meininger, for the News Tribune
The NorShor Theatre is not only at the center of our city; for many of us, it is the heart of our community. As with any centenarian, it has led a complex life, some of it prosperous and parts of it tumultuous. But by all accounts, it has been a legendary journey.
For generations, the NorShor stood sentinel on Superior Street, serving the region and its residents in countless ways. Once wrapped in splendor, it now sits in a sorry state. No question: Our treasured landmark — and our community — deserves better.
We are not in this effort to restore and renovate the NorShor just for nostalgia. It is easy to get swept up with romantic notions of all this building was and can be (noble motivations though they are). But most importantly, its revitalization makes good economic sense.
A restored NorShor will bring innovative growth and development to Duluth. As a new arts center — offering a state-of-the-art facility to local, regional and national performers — the new NorShor will be a cornerstone in the burgeoning arts scene. It will offer a much-needed, mid-sized performance venue and a historic special-events facility unlike anything else in our city.
While we are excited about the prospects, we are even more encouraged that recent studies and communities across the country support our suspicions that the arts are good for business. From designing and printing programs to providing stable salaries for staff and artists, and from patrons dining before or after a show to paying their babysitters at evening’s end, the financial impacts reach far and wide across all sectors of our community.
When a cultural event is not happening in a community, nearly half of those asked in a 2012 survey said they would travel to a different community to attend a similar event. If a community fails to provide a variety of artistic and cultural experiences, people — and their discretionary spending — go elsewhere, according to Americans for the Arts and its “Arts & Economic Prosperity IV” summary report.
When a community attracts non-local arts, attendees and cultural tourists, it garners significant economic benefit. Arts and culture are proven magnets for travelers and their money. They spend more than other travelers, are more likely to stay overnight, and are more likely to spend $1,000 or more during a stay, Americans for the Arts determined.
When you add it up: Far-reaching economic impact, a destination for tourists and the restoration of a beloved building, there are so many ways a restored NorShor strengthens our community. A place to create new memories? Wonderful. Building a more vibrant city? Even better.
The NorShor’s time has come. Its best years are ahead. With Sherman Associates and the Duluth Playhouse as partners at the helm, we are confident in the vision, wherewithal and experience for a successful restoration.
And we recognize for this to truly be a theater for the community it needs to be a theater transformed by the community. As such, we are pleased to play our part in returning the NorShor Theatre to its respected role in our city and all that the restoration will bring.
Gary Doty, Marcia Doty, Jerry Peterson and Tim Meininger are members of the NorShor Theatre Steering Committee, which was created by the Duluth Playhouse to raise $2 million for the historic theater’s renovation.