The Theater Guild nears the dress rehearsal for the Performing Arts Center building


He got curtains from Broadway. He bought seats from the Bellagio in Las Vegas. And now the Scotts Valley Community Theater Guild is about to complete a performing arts center on the site of the old ice rink.

According to Guild Board member Trish Melehan, it took about $ 80,000 of concrete work and countless hours of volunteer work to get there.

“It will be a cultural hub of the city,” said the local arts commissioner, 70, 15, noting that their space can accommodate ballet, choral groups and groups with many followers. “We are going to have seats that can accommodate up to 500 people. “

And while the group is aiming for a smooth opening in December, and much of the seismic modernization is now visible on the structure’s hull, it’s been a long journey to get here, says Melehan.

“Our mission was to raise funds to create a performing arts space in Scotts Valley,” she said, noting that local groups were using the Bethany University theater until it closed in 2011. . “Bethany sort of disappeared and they sold to 1440 Multiversity. So that place was no longer available.

When the City bought the old ice rink building for a new library, it had to figure out what to do with the other half of the building.

“There have been various proposals,” says Melehan, thinking back to the community’s discussions about the future of the facility. “The most important voices were those who said we needed a performing arts center. “

She remembers what it was like to walk in for the first time.

“There were all kinds of things in there,” she said, remembering the floor below, the kitchen and the little lockers. “All that had been done was that a wall had been put up to separate it from the library.”

In the end, the Guild had to tear everything down and start from scratch.

Over the years, the group has raised several thousand dollars from local art promoters. This included a grant of $ 50,000 and an anonymous donation of $ 30,000.

“We raised a lot, but it took a long time,” she said, adding that they must have assured the Council at some point that they were still serious about completing the center. “About two years ago, they made us sign an official lease. “

The Guild commissioned an architect to develop designs free of charge.

City officials have confirmed that the group has been successful in withdrawing some building permits, although it noted that they are currently in the process of renegotiating a new lease.

The board members had high hopes that they could attract a generous business or philanthropist to champion their cause, to transform the space into, say, the “Netflix Center for the Performing Arts.” But that never happened.

So while the group had a relatively grand vision to begin with, they now offer a gradual rollout where they would start in a more modest setup and then improve things over time.

“We decided we had to be more realistic,” Melehan said, noting that they had rearranged the plans to be more flexible for groups who might want to rent the facility. “Everything is portable. “

According to Melehan, after the city allowed a developer to build in Santa Claus Village and gave up a performing arts center there, it received a payment of $ 1 million and promised the guild about $ 95,000 for guild plans.

“This is one of the hurdles we had to overcome to get to where we are today,” she said, adding that local officials didn’t seem to believe they could actually protest the performing arts space. “The City never wanted to give us the money.

City officials told the group her dream would come with a prize of $ 2 million (which then climbed to $ 4 million), she added.

“They were right about it,” she said, adding that they had given the group a few years to find a solution. “We changed our plans for a permit.”

Since then, the Guild has been busy as bees doing all the work that needs to be done to bring Shakespeare, as well as more contemporary shows, to Scotts Valley.

Meanwhile, the City is completely renovating the library space next door, which is expected to include an upgrade to the facade covering the exterior of the future performing arts venue.

This facility improvement should be completed by next spring.

On the performing arts side, renovations included moving a door, installing fire sprinklers and removing an old toilet.

The entire layout can be reconfigured at will, making it an ideal venue for business presentations, school groups and community gatherings, according to the Guild.

Melehan wonders if perhaps they should have left the toilet in place, because now one of the barriers to opening is how people can relieve themselves at intermission.

“We had quite a bit of money in the bank, but we spent it,” she said, adding that they were doing more fundraising but would like to see the City pitch with the promised money. “It would be a huge boon for us. “

Asked about the funding agreement by the Press banner, the city confirmed it was okay with giving the group an unspecified amount of money for the performing arts center, but said it was keeping the money until it saw More details.

“We want to see what the concept is and how they would use that money,” said Casey Estorga, director of administrative services. “We want to support this project.

Melehan says they are considering (high-end) porta-pots as a temporary solution to the bathroom problem, and reveals that the Guild has been in talks with the high school’s drama department for a reduced performance of The Nutcracker in December.

Scotts Valley Public Works Director Chris Lamm said the city might be more likely to pay the money it owes if the Guild comes up with a long-term solution, instead of a temporary one.

“From a building occupancy perspective, a building has to have a toilet,” Lamm said, confirming that portable toilets could meet this rule, for a while anyway. “The City would certainly be looking for something more permanent for the completion of the project. “


William E. Bennett

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