Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sorting out the Chatham 14 situation...

Chatham 14 lobby during this year's Community day
It's been about two weeks since JP Paulus had went up to the Chatham 14 and found that the theaters were closed. We largely know why and it has been reported mainly in the Chicago Sun-Times and CBS 2 Chicago as to why the theaters had been shut down for a week. I recently found out that the Stark's apparently owed some money and hence the eviction on October 19, 2012.

We already know that there had been a dispute between Alisa and Tony Donzell Starks who own ICE Theaters and their silent partner Michael Silver. We also now know that the Chatham 14 is being operated by a management company brought in by Mr. Silver and that the Starks had essentially been forced out of day to day operations. One bright spot though is that while Silver has control of the Chatham 14 theaters the Starks' remain owners of the property.

While JP offered his report on going to the show once they reopened this past Friday, we've found a report posted to our FB page, "Friday, under 'new management,' water was on the floors in the lobby, credit cards couldn not be processes and it was dark." This report is also reiterated in an ICE Theaters press release that had been sent to us by our friend Leslie Honore who is the recording corresponding secretary at the Greater Chatham Alliance. She had earlier shared with us another report from Chinta Strausberg.

I recognize that both parties have their own spin as to what happened and why. My wish is to hear more from Michael Silver because even though media reports have either quoted him or mentioned him there isn't much said about him. Whatever forced this "hostile takover" - as the closure of Chatham 14 was termed in the release - we're not entirely clear as to what brought this on.

Perhaps all this was a financial dispute, perhaps there was a aversion from going all digital, or there were some other factors that hasn't been spelled out in the press. What I accept about this whole process is that this is business. Silver was a silent partner and his actions may well have been a result of his investment in the Chatham 14 and this is certainly one potential risk when you bring in a partner. The risk being that the partner could elect to takeover the business.

Also I want to note that in light of this takeover, we're probably going to hear some people urge to support ICE Theaters by visiting their location in Lawndale on Roosevelt & Homan. The rationale for that is to support a Black-owned business. And as stated earlier, they will be sure to note all that was amiss when the Chatham was reopened. 

All the same, how many of us will continue to support this business? Would you be willing to go to Chicago's West Side to support the Starks? Do you think the Chatham 14 can survive?

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