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By Paul Bendix

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About this blog: A 32-year resident of Menlo Park, I regularly make my way around downtown in a wheelchair. This gives me an unusual perspective on a town in which I have spent almost half of my life. I was educated at UC Berkeley, and permanentl...  (More)

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(Under) Performing Arts Center

Uploaded: Jan 16, 2014
It's a major civic achievement, endlessly promising and somewhat disappointing: the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center.

What's disappointing? The number of nights the facility is dark. In particular, the lack of year-round bookings by major performance groups.

The PAC's design was well researched. Sequoia District officials did substantial due diligence. Music at Menlo founders David Finckel and Wu Han advised on acoustics. Today, their concerts represent the most bookings by outside groups.

Making Menlo Park, in essence, the summer home of the Lincoln Center Chamber Series. With these credentials, you would think our PAC would attract more concerts and events.

Dance troupes. Chamber artists. Jazz concerts. The place is sized and acoustically designed for a range of performers.

What is the problem? In truth, the Bing Center at Stanford has siphoned off some business. But our PAC has distinct advantages, with its proscenium stage, size and intimacy.

I suspect that neither the District nor the City can afford a professional with the experience and connections to promote bookings. Which creates a chicken-egg problem for our beautiful civic theater. To attract audiences and artists...it needs to attract more artists and audiences.

Ideally, the Performing Arts Center would contract with an impresario or agency like Columbia Artists Management. But how could we fund such a move?

What are your ideas about expanding use of the M-A Performing Arts Center?

Comments

Posted by Comment, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Feb 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm

It is my understanding that only a small number of outside events are allowed per an agreement with neighbors. Also, school classes and rehearsals and other events take precedence over outside events. You might check on this. I think it was by design.


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