The Royal Oak community comes together to save a historic cinema

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – The Main Art Theater in royal oak has eight decades of history.

Of those 80 years, theater has been in Jason Kryzsiak’s heart for 30 years. He even considered his and his wife’s decision years ago when they decided to move.

“One of the reasons we chose the house we chose was that it was within walking distance of the main art theater,” Kryzsiak said. “So theater has been part of our lives for years.”

The theater closed during the pandemic, as did many others. But that didn’t follow when many of them decided to reopen.

At the time when the final closure of the theater was announced, around fifty lovers of the establishment had gathered to pay homage to it; while making theater friends on Facebook.

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“We realized we had such a group together right under the marquee,” Kruzsiak said. “There were about 50 of us that night, and we decided we had to do something about it.”

The new friends met with the owners of the theater to discuss their option of running it as a community theater, but Kryzsiak says they opted to go ahead with the plan to upgrade it and set up a mixed-use development.

“This community will come out and support independent cinema in this place,” Kryzsiak said. “Our hope is that, through negotiations with the owner, we can find films that will keep the films alive at the Main Art Theater. Our membership is growing. Our members are determined and we will do what we can to save this theatre.

The membership group is not yet complete. They try to convince the owners that it is in their interest not to demolish the theater. They believe they can make it work by generating revenue using the historic site as a community theater.

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At 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, the group will hold a Save the Hand rally in front of the theater.

April 12 is the meeting of the Royal Oak Planning Commission. The 7 p.m. meeting will bring developers together alongside city officials. The goal for the group is to argue that as a community they can achieve the common goal and the building doesn’t have to be demolished.

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