El Cajon Performing Arts Center – Plan to reopen theater to be released at June 21 Press Conference

The El Cajon Performing Arts Center Foundation will submit a plan today, Thursday, June 21, to the City Of El Cajon to save the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC).  The Foundation says the shuttered theater should be reopened, not demolished. They will hold a press conference at 3:00 pm today at El Cajon City Hall.

The Foundation will submit it’s 60 page proposal as an alternative to the the City’s March decision to turn the site over to private developers for the construction of  a hotel. Ray Lutz, Founding Chair of the ECPAC Foundation, maintains that the Foundation should have the same chance to negotiate with the City on why it is best to simply repair and reopen the theater. “Fair is fair.”

Developer Neal E. Arthur was able to get the city to agree to negotiate with him on an exclusive basis for six months to discuss how the theater can be torn down and replaced with a “four star hotel.”   The Foundation’s argument against the demolition is that the current center can be realigned from a pure “Performing Arts” venue to a more viable “Arts and Entertainment” venue and pick up more mainstream acts. This realignment would also keep the center in the public domain.

In addition to expanding the kinds of acts taking place there, this Arts and Entertainment venue will emphasize concessions and include a phased renovation plan to improve the venue, signage and other surrounding spaces.   This approach could be potentially done for 10% of the $4.3 million suggested cost. The Foundation also proposes that they can run the theater without a required direct monetary subsidy from the City, unlike former managers.

If the City agrees to negotiate with the Foundation, their plan will be improved to include the actual costs to fix the theater.  Since the Foundation has had limited access to the theater and has not had a chance to fully investigate all issues, the Foundation board decided to include a disclaimer in the document which they will submit today to allow the Foundation to continue to investigate these details after the City has agreed to move forward with the negotiations.

If the City agrees to negotiate, the Foundation will go forward with a Gala Fundraiser this summer to reach out to supporters, artist and even theater management and production companies who may want to rent or help run the theater.

Lutz emphasizes that “This theater was originally funded and put into place by the tax-payer and by the blood, sweat and tears of performing arts supporter.  It must stay in the public domain and must not be turned over to private developers.”

Thursday June 21, 2012  3:00 pm- Press Conference at El Cajon City Hall, 200 Civic Center Way, El Cajon