It was just this past March 16, 2012 that Vancouver, Washington Mayor, Tim Leavitt, stood before an audience in the recently restored Kiggin’s Theater and said, “Only because owner Bill Leigh pursued his dream to restore this landmark, are we today able to enjoy Mayor Kiggins vision for the performing arts” in his 2012 State of the City speech.
Also in that speech, the Mayor stated, “I pledged we would work toward redevelopment of the empty Block 10, here near the heart of downtown. In this economy, that has been difficult. But we know that reuse of this property could enhance downtown. So, I’ll soon be working with a group of stakeholders to re-energize the block. And, we will continue to explore new ideas, like a performing arts center.”
Towards the end of the speech, speaking of future possibilities for the city he listed “Establishment of an arts and entertainment district downtown, building even greater vibrancy in our historic heart.”
There is little doubt that “performing arts” is a vital core of Vancouver, especially in revitalizing the downtown district. And knowing how vital the “performing arts” are to downtown, how contradictory it is to see the city pressuring the existing and long standing “performing arts” Slocum House Theater Company out of the home they have had for decades, painstakingly moved to and restored at its decades long location by an all volunteer group of citizens in the southwest corner of Esther Short Park specifically to host the “performing arts.”
Shortly after, the Theater Company issued a press release announcing the March 11, 2012 closing.
Even though the city claims ownership of the property, I am told that prior to 2002, “the only thing the city did was to paint the outside, fix a few plumbing problems and for some reason pay the water bill.”