A few dozen protesters gathered outside the Tower Theater yesterday to condemn the city of Miami’s plan to turn the Little Havana arthouse cinema into a tourist welcome center and performance space.

Catch up fast: Miami government reclaims city-owned theater after terminate a management contract with Miami-Dade College, which has managed the space for 20 years.

  • Miami Commissioner Joe Carollo, whose district includes Little Havana, defended the decision at a Monday news conference, saying theater attendance was low and the city wanted to optimize the property after investing millions in renovations.

Details: The city plans to continue showing movies at the theater, Carollo said. But it will expand the lineup to include short tourist-oriented documentaries about Miami attractions and local history.

  • The theater โ€” in addition to serving as a visitor center with tourist brochures โ€” will host plays and include a rotating art exhibit on the second floor, Carollo said.

What they say : Local filmmaker Chris Molina, who created a petition to save the theatertold Axios that the city redesign would “shrink” Little Havana.

  • “It’s quite disappointing that they still decided to go ahead with this plan to create a welcome center when so many people already like it the way it is,” said Molina.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade College says it can make the same changes outlined in the city plan without being removed as theater manager, Miami New Times reports. The management agreement expires in January.

  • “MDC can implement many of its great ideas in as little as 30 days – much sooner than a change in leadership,” the college said in a statement about Carollo’s plan.

What we are looking at: Molina said protesters may have to show up in person to urge the city commission, whose next meeting is Oct. 13.

  • “If a petition doesn’t do it and a protest doesn’t do it, we just have to show it to their face,” he told Axios.