It’s time we got out of the theater’s way

Published 10:36pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Late last week, an email was sent to the Times-Journal and many others about the troubling status of the Walton Theater.

In short, operators for the theater — David and Sharon Jackson — said in the email the theater is just weeks away from having to shut down because of poor attendance and dwindling business.

It’s a shame it has come to this point. It’s a shame we run the risk of losing what has become a true downtown Selma treasure in the Walton Theater.

When this project came about — a project that was created as a joint private-public venture between the city of Selma and the Jackson — the relationship seemed tremendously positive. Both sides at the time appeared committed to do whatever it took to make the project successful.

Unfortunately, it appears times have changed.

Since the theater has opened, no one can argue the Jacksons have done the heavy lifting to make this project a success.

And, as a way to show their appreciation for the Jackson’s hard work, it appears the city, the council and the council’s ad-hoc committees have been less than enthusiastic in the partnership.

There have been committees block plans for needed signage at the Walton Theater, and then the city had the gall to stop the theater from hosting movie birthday parties that were bringing in both customers and revenue.

Now, with the theater in need of help, a council committee has planed a “theater transition meeting” for Tuesday, Nov. 5. Why? For what?

If this meeting is anything other than figuring out ways to get out of the Jackson’s way, letting them run this business as they see fit, then it is a meeting that should not be held.

If this meeting is anything other than coming together and apologizing for the roadblocks, the headaches and the heartburn the city has caused in this relationship, then it is a meeting that should not be held.

As we have said before, the city of Selma and the Selma City Council are not capable of running a business. They have proven such with the St. James and they have — sadly — proven this with the Walton Theater partnership.

In a recent article, Selma Mayor George Evans said he is fully behind the theater and wants it to be successful. If that is the case, and we have no doubt that it is, then he should take the first step in removing whatever hurdles are hindering that success from happening.


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