Addressing the Sacramento Community Center Theater renovations

This week’s discussion of the Sacramento Community Center Theater is long overdue. The facility’s shortcomings—poor acoustics, insufficient restrooms (especially for women) and so on—became apparent soon after it opened in 1974. The dilemma stood out in higher relief when the better-designed Mondavi Center opened in 2002 in Davis, and the region’s cultural center of gravity for high-end performing-arts groups started shifting there instead.

But it’s only now that Sacramento is finally addressing the issue, looking at different options to gussy up the old venue. The city of Sacramento held a public discussion on Wednesday, April 16, and the city council will discuss renovation options on Tuesday, April 22. The remodel alternatives aren’t cheap, and the less expensive ones won’t get the job done. A number of people maintain that the city should instead build a new, more well-designed hall (something like the Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, which opened in 2007).

The problem with the new facility strategy is that it will take many years. The city would need to identify and acquire a site, hire the architects and fund construction (and keep in mind, the city’s hitched most of its financial resources to a certain arena). A new hall would be a long process. In the meantime, some of the remaining local groups performing in the old Community Center Theater might expire.

This situation was foreseen, and should have been addressed much sooner; the long delay has only made things worse. And how did Modesto (yeah, Modesto!) build a modern-arts complex that Sacramento can only envy? Modesto’s got a very large, privately held corporation (whose name is on its arts center). Sacramento, alas, has no equivalent.