(UPDATED 7/11/2017). The Sacramento City Council recently approved moving forward with the renovation of the Community Center Theater located on L Street. Hooray!
In a related action, the Sacramento City Council also approved both temporary and permanent improvements to the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium.
The two actions are closely connected.
Community Center Theater Renovation and Memorial Auditorium Upgrade
The upgrades to the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium will be first up starting in 2017. Once completed, the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium can then serve during the 2019-20 Season as the venue for performances of the: California Musical Theater Broadway Series; Sacramento Ballet; Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra; Sacramento Speakers Series; and, Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.
It was estimated that trying to renovate the Community Center Theater while accommodating performing arts events would take approximately four to six seasons! I for one would much rather attend performances at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium during 2019-2020 as opposed to a much longer period of disruption. How about you?
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The Community Center Theater building was built in 1974 (see 7/11/2017 update below), and it is dated, inadequate, and unattractive. I have attended many events over the years at the Community Center Theater. I am a long-time Broadway Series season ticket holder, and I also occasionally attend performances of the Sacramento Ballet and Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera.
First and foremost on my list is the inadequacy of the restrooms. Patrons of the arts should not have to dash across the outside courtyard during intermission in inclement weather to use the restrooms in the nearby Convention Center!
Then there is the fact that the building is out of compliance with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and that the acoustics leave much to be desired.
Renovations of the Community Center Theater will include:
- Patron Improvements with a focus on ADA and building code compliance, restrooms, concessions, lobbies, entrances, and re-configured audience seating.
- Performance improvements including audio, video, lighting and rigging systems along with box office, dressing room, loading dock, and rehearsal space upgrades.
- Technical improvements including efficient building environmental and control systems.
- Acoustical improvements with new electro-acoustic enhancement system, improved fixed sound absorption and a new orchestra shell.
Luckily, there is plenty of room to expand the Community Center Theater towards L Street to accommodate the renovation.
The issue of renovation v. relocation of the Community Center Theater has been very controversial over the years. I have considered the pros and cons put forward, but it all comes down to location-location-location.
Many performing arts patrons like to make an evening of it – I certainly do. The close proximity of the L Street site to parking and the numerous restaurants close by makes the existing location ideal – in my opinion.
Changes to the expanded building will include a new “look”. When all is said and done, I feel confident that the renovated Community Center Theater will be something Sacramento can be proud of.
Sacramento Community Center Grand Opening – Circa 1974
(UPDATED 7/11/2017) The Sacramento Bee is celebrating its 160th Anniversary this year and the newspaper periodically publishes old articles from Sacramento’s past. Recently the Sacramento Bee published the following article about the grand opening of the Community Center. The headline was “Fanfare Galore – Balloons Help Open Sacramento Community Center.”
June 30, 1974: Let it be recorded that at 10:30 a.m. on June 29, 1974 – give or take a few minutes – 500 feather-flapping pigeons soared into the air through a rainbow of balloons and spouts of brilliant orange smoke and the Sacramento Community Center officially was born.
Let it be noted, too, that a speech was made and prayer was said, a poem recited and a band played mightily – and in some eyes, there were tears – as the American flag rose slowly into the stifling heat of the summer day.
For a blessed event, it was spectacular. But like any birth, it’s not so much the moment that counts – but the unwieldy excitement that there’s so much to come.
For hundreds of Sacramentans, that was the mood yesterday. What moved the day were everybody’s private daydreams about what this town’s new baby might grow up to be.
“This is the largest single public improvement ever made in Northern California,” said Mayor Richard Marriott, standing alone, in the shadow of the huge complex, a few moments before the festivities began. He looked up the tally gray walls awhile, switched to wax philosophically, “This is a beautiful day, a great day for Sacramento; it’s a dream come true. You wouldn’t know this is sleepy little River City, not this morning.” “What’s the quotation?” the mayor asked to no one in particular. “Without vision, the people perish?”
Are you in favor of renovation or relocation? Why?
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