Downey Theatre losing money

DOWNEY - Working with community services staff, the City Council subcommittee formed last year to look into the operation of the Downey Civic Theatre has come up with recommendations to improve its utilization.For years the theater has realized revenue from regular users such as the Downey Civic Light Opera, the Downey Symphony, the Downey Rose Float Association, Downey United School District, dance groups, and other similar cultural, educational and artistic groups. Rental revenues, however, have never approached budgeted costs. Findings indicate that the theater operation has been losing $1 million a year. The subcommittee, consisting of Council members David Gafin and Roger Brossmer, recommends contracting with a qualified firm to handle the overall management and operation of the civic theatre, including its scheduling, booking, marketing and ticket sales. A best case scenario would be for some private company to produce and program substantial cultural projects to include concerts, performances and other worthwhile activities that would sufficiently attract local residents and others in surrounding communities to buy tickets, city officials said. The consensus of opinion nonetheless is that the handsome resource that is the Downey Civic Theatre can be properly and better utilized and, as Brossmer says, be made to break even or better. It is believed some cost mitigation comes from the golf course fund. Councilman Mario Guerra points to the theater's significance as a touchstone of art and culture, serving not only local needs but those of surrounding areas. "Our kids, our families, our community needs it," he said. "It is therefore important that it be kept operating." Echoing this, Gafin was quoted as saying, "We don't want to board it up." Notices will be sent out soon to potential operators to submit their proposals according to specific guidelines. Community Services director Thad Phillips says he's optimistic that there will be takers. Proposals, he says, are due on May 28, with final selection to be announced on June 14.

********** Published: April 23, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 1