Menlo Park launches new grant program for performing arts center

City hopes to help community groups afford theater rental

Calling all performing groups -- Menlo Park has officially launched its new grant program, and the Dec. 1 deadline is right around the corner.

In an effort to boost the city's use of the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center, five community groups will be awarded $500 to $1,000 to subsidize rental of the theater.

The city chipped in $2.6 million to build the center, sharing the cost with Menlo-Atherton High School. In exchange Menlo Park is supposed to get 55 days of rent-free use during the school year, and unlimited access during school vacations.

But as the Almanac reported in June, it hasn't worked out that way. So far the city use averages between 11 and 36 days each year since the theater opened in 2009.

Scheduling presents one obstacle, as school events take priority over community use. Another factor is cost; community groups failed to flock to the theater because of the rental expense.

That's where the new grant program comes in. No applications will be accepted after Dec. 1, according to a press release. The grants expire after one year; organizations are welcome to reapply during the next cycle.

Contact the Community Services Department at 330-2223 for more information about the grants.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Producer
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 9, 2012 at 12:48 pm

This sounds great! However, in the past it was difficult and unpleasant to work with the people at the M-A PAC. The manager was not very welcoming and extremely inflexible. Hope that gets fixed because it's another reason for the low interest in using the facility.

 +   Like this comment
Posted by AbundantLiving
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Nov 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Wonderful! The performing arts center needs to be a central place for all...Adults, families and especially our youth.

Life is meant to be enjoyed!

 +   Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 11, 2012 at 1:43 pm

Who sets the rental rates? Why can't these just be set lower? The result is the same, no?
Is this yet another example of really poor financial analysis and negotiations on the part of city staff? We taxpayers foot the bill for many years but the city didn't negotiate a deal that allows local performing groups to have ample time or reasonable rates without a subsidy? This stinks. What is really going on?

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