The debate about privatization and cultural heritage has been most dramatic in Italy, Greece and France, and has generated impassioned commentary and pleas for better data, more transparent processes and more thorough study about an issue with critical implications for heritage sites from Egypt to China to Peru and beyond. But the complexity of the role of the private sector in the creation and preservation of cultural heritage is also encapsulated in the tortured and triumphant experience of the Fox Theatre in the unlikely location of Atlanta, Georgia, a city generally more concerned with its reputation as the capital of the modern American south rather than with its relatively brief international history. This Moorish designed theatre was initially a failed private non-profit project of the Shriners, saved and completed just 2 months after the 1929 stock market crash by the for-profit Fox Theatres movie chain, struggled for decades in various private for-profit manifestations, was almost demolished in 1974 to make room for a headquarters building by a private for-profit telecommunications company (Southern Bell), saved again by a remarkable outpouring of both local and non-local private citizen activism and fundraising (including citizens standing in the way of wrecking balls and famous artists who lent their names and money to the cause), and eventually lavishly restored and rejuvenated in 1987 by another highly visible private non-profit fundraising campaign.
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