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Council OKs PAC deal

COC, city agree to two-year partnership for school’s PAC

Posted: May 20, 2009 9:10 p.m.
Updated: May 21, 2009 4:55 a.m.

With little discussion Wednesday, the Santa Clarita City Council and the College of the Canyons board of trustees unanimously OK’d a two-year partnership for the college’s performing arts center.

The memorandum of understanding replaces a previous contract between the two entities, and comes several months after the city nearly dissolved the agreement.

As part of the MOU approved Wednesday evening, the city will provide $70,000 per year to COC. Community groups will be entitled to 25 percent of the available calendar dates at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

“We didn’t want the building empty,” City Manager Ken Pulskamp said.

The regular meeting of the COC board was held at the city’s Transit Maintenance Facility, and included the City Council.

The original memorandum of understanding was set up in 2000, when the city contributed $2.4 million to increase the seating capacity of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons.

The agreement approved Wednesday does not differ radically from the original.

Twenty-five percent of the performing arts center’s dates will be available to local groups. Conversely, under the old agreement, about 34 percent of the year’s dates were available to local arts groups.

The reduction was due to a drop in usage by local groups in recent years, said Rick Gould, the city’s director of parks, recreation and community services.

Dates are booked first by groups connected to the college, then by outside groups. Community groups then pick from the remaining dates.

The 926-seat theater near the corner of Valencia Boulevard and Rockwell Canyon Road cost $18.3 million to build; it opened in 2004.

In terms of money, the city will contribute $20,000 per year towards the theater manager’s salary; $35,000 per year for maintenance and equipment replacement; and $15,000 per year toward the salary of an arts grant writer.

The MOU stipulates the city gets 25 percent of the grant writer’s time for developing city and community user grant applications.

A notable change in the new MOU is an expiration date of June 30, 2011. Next summer, Gould said city and college officials will begin discussing a possible renewal.

If no agreement is reached on a new MOU by Nov. 15, 2010, as stipulated in the document, scheduling for the 2011-12 season will be based on no memorandum being in place.

“Really this is a whole evolving arena. What we are doing now seems to make sense,” Pulskamp said. “Whether it still makes sense in a couple years remains to be seen.”

The new agreement met with approval from TimBen Boydston, artistic director of the Canyon Theatre Guild in downtown Newhall.

“I think the solution they came up with is an excellent one,” he said. The agreement takes care of the needs of local nonprofit groups, he said, as well as giving the college more dates to bring in higher revenue-producing acts.

His only disappointment, he said, was the two-year limit.

Boydston said he would have preferred to see a long-term agreement of “at least 10 years, maybe 20 years,” and feared local arts groups may hang in the balance two years down the road.

Overall, he said: “I’m really happy they had the resolution.”



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