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City to take look at how to run Mars Theatre
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Springfield City Council is creating an advisory board to help figure out who will run the Mars Theater once renovations are complete and the building is open for business.

Council members Charles Hinely and Kenny Usher, who also are part of the Springfield Revitalization Corporation, were picked to be a part of the temporary advisory board. SRC chairman Wayne Kight asked the city to appoint a temporary five-person advisory council for the Mars Theatre.

"I feel like it’s time to start putting plans in place and seeing what the management of this place is going to be," Usher said.

City Manager Brett Bennett said there are still questions to answer about who would be in charge of operations at the Mars Theater, including what their duties and functions would be and to whom they would answer.

Bennett said the SRC has had internal discussions about how the theatre would be operated and who would do it.

"We want to look at some options on how to move forward," Bennett said.

The advisory board could set the course for how the Mars Theatre will be run once work on it is complete.

"It’s not just ‘open the doors and they’ll come,’" Bennett said. "There’s promotion and advertising and making sure the air conditioning is on."

Hinely asserted that the city needs to have a say-so in whoever runs the theatre, and he preferred having a professional in charge.

"I strongly feel the city has to have a member on the committee," he said. "When that thing gets operational, we don’t want to have to rely on a bunch of volunteers."

The SRC has a long-term lease with the city on the theatre, and efforts to renovate the building and turn into an arts venue are under way. Bids for construction on the theatre are due at the end of the month, and council members could approve a bid at their April meeting.

The Mars, in conjunction with the Averitt Center for the Arts in Statesboro, is staging "12 Angry Jurors" at the Historic Effingham Courthouse on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. A portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go toward renovation and restoration of the Mars.

Also, voting for the council seat vacated by Troy Allen will be held Tuesday at city hall. Advanced voting is being held through today at 4:30 p.m.

The candidates are Justin Cribbs and Wanda Laning.