Letter to the Editor


published in the Crete News, Oct. 23, 2018

Why should we bail out the ISIS Theatre . . . again? What is BRAC? Dude, do I really get to wear a mullet? We have collectively answered these questions over and over in recent weeks so we want to get a few answers out there.

When it was announced that Thom Reeves was going to close the movie theatre, there was a collective gasp. The ISIS has been a part of the Crete landscape for 92 years.

From “Casablana” to “Moana”, many generations have fond memories of watching movies on the big screen in Crete.

There was also an undercurrent of frustration. The community had banded together once before to raise the money needed to convert to the theater to digital media so it could stay open. Gala, Grants . . . these seem to be familiar words. Collectively we already did this once. No one wants to spend money to do the same thing again.

Everyone needs to know that this time, it is being done differently.

Crete isn’t alone in this struggle. This summer, a group of concerned citizens was convened by the City to decide if the theatre can be restructured and remain financially viable. Because involvement from City government has to be a last step in the process and not a first resort, these community members spent some time considering options. Business plans were written, previous financial records were reviewed and budgets were drafted. The work of that committee is done. The lessons we learned in this process are:

  1. More than 30 communities across the state of Nebraska have kept their theatre open by restructuring as nonprofit and volunteer run;
  2. Ticket receipts for the ISIS have consistently covered operating costs on a monthly basis, without wages; and
  3. We are missing so many additional community entertainment opportunities in

Because we believe in Crete and providing entertainment opportunities right here, we have formed the Blue River Arts Council (BRAC).  It has been established as a nonprofit corporation and is in the process of seeking 501(c)(3) recognition. The purpose of the organization is broad. Its success is NOT predicated on saving the ISIS. Instead, it is designed to serve the area by providing art and entertainment-related educational opportunities and performances here in Crete. Think of summer children’s theater, comedians or magicians, art shows. We are a community with more than 120 kids in the high school band, two thriving dance studios and nationally-renowned university theater! We need to celebrate the Arts and work to keep core entertainment activities here.

As a practical matter, we do believe that the quickest way to regularly provide some entertainment in Crete is to reopen the ISIS with a volunteer staff. This isn’t going to be possible without the City’s help. Thom Reeves has agreed to sell the building at the assessed value. Provided the building is purchased, Thom will then gift BRAC all of the personal property and equipment! That includes everything paid for by the community 6 or 7 years ago including the projector, sound system, 3D equipment, and even the 3D silver screen and popcorn machine. Thom has patched holes, greeted move-goers and managed the theatre by himself with a separate full-time job for many years and he is tired and he is done. If the community wants to see the ISIS survive, we need to act quickly.

That is why BRAC is hosting a gala Friday November 9th – the Totally Rad 80’s Prom!! With a successful fund raiser, and the involvement of the City, we will be in a position to renovate the lobby and bathrooms so that we can reopen the theatre by spring. We will also be in a stronger position to apply for grants that would allow us to replace the marquee and provide for the future of the ISIS by buying the building back from the City someday.

In order to act quickly, BRAC has partnered with the Crete Community Foundation for grant applications and for acceptance of gifts larger than $500 which are intended to be tax-deductible. If BRAC can’t maintain operation, all money raised will remain with the Foundation. So this effort is win-win. If we are successful, we become like the 30+ other communities our size in Nebraska with nonprofit theaters. If we aren’t successful, we seek other entertainment opportunities for Crete with the money raised.

We want our children and their friends to be able to head to a movie in town. We believe a city our size needs to have active entertainment opportunities. We don’t need empty buildings and store fronts. Please contact your city council member and encourage them to support this investment in downtown Crete. Consider a financial donation. Attend the Gala November 9th! Contact any of us or find Blue River Arts Council on Facebook for more information. And yes – you can wear your mullet or your best 80’s prom dress if you want to or you can come in jeans and a tshirt. If we don’t take a chance on Crete, who is going to? #communityinmotion

Valerie Andelt
College Fine Arts Degree
CHS Band, Choir, Theater Mom

Kristi Capek
Former ISIS Employee
College Arts Degree and Working Graphic Artist CHS Band, Choir, Theater Mom

Kate Hesser
Vocal Performer
High School Band and Vocal Music Parent of 3 Movie-Going Boys

Lacey Franzen
College Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Music Crete Schools Vocal Music Instructor

Jennifer Robinson
UNL Graduate, Gallup Senior Editor Published Writer
Crete Planning Commission

Shaylene Smith
High School Band, Choir and Theater Doane University Theater Alum
Dance, Theater, Film and Show Choir Mom

Miriam Weber Movie Lover
CHS Band, Choir, Theater Mom