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Efforts Underway To Develop New Plan To Save South Coast Performing Arts Center From Closure

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The New West Symphony is one of the largest performing arts organizations in the region. The symphony plays some of its concerts at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, and some at the Oxnard Performing Arts Center. It’s one of a number of community groups which use the facility. But, with the City of Oxnard financially strapped, the Oxnard facility is fighting to keep its doors open.

The New West Symphony’s Rebecca Rolling says there really isn’t a good alternative of that size in western Ventura County.

The crisis hit the more than half century old Oxnard facility this spring. Oxnard leaders had to find a way to cover a projected seven million dollar budget shortfall. The original plan called for closing the Performing Arts Center, and the Carnegie Art Museum. The City Council moved to close the Carnegie, but with a number of events on the books, agreed to provide funding to keep it open through the end of the year.

Gary Blum is President of the Oxnard Performing Arts Center Corporation. It’s the non-profit which currently runs the Performing Arts Center. He says the idea is to come up with a management plan to make the complex self-sufficient.

Blum says when the City Council backed off from immediately closing the Performing Arts Center, it gave the community a shot at coming up with a new plan to keep it open. But, the clock is ticking. Right now, there are no plans for 2020 events at the facility.

The Performing Arts Center Corporation has already made one big move. After the city laid off the facility’s General Manager, the non-profit operator of the complex hired Carolyn Merino Mullen as Executive Director.

Plans call for the request for proposals to run the center to be released next month, and an operator selected by November. But, with the City apparently ending its subsidies for the complex, some non-profits and the community will need to rally if the Performing Arts Center is going to keep its doors open.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.