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September 26, 2022

Scotts Valley Performing Space Inches Closer To Opening

It’s been under construction for years, and on June 15, Scotts Valley City Council agreed to approve the opening of a new multi-purpose event facility.

The Scotts Valley Theater Guild has been developing the performance arts space, located at 251-B Kings Village Road, since March 2020 when it signed an initial lease with the city.

The former roller rink is in the middle of a facelift as part of library renovations going on next door. Meanwhile, the interior has been inching ever closer to being able to host concerts, author talks and plays.

The Guild says it’s invested $150,000 in upgrades, but it has been eagerly awaiting the $95,000 Scotts Valley had promised to chip in.

The city had been holding out while the Guild figured out restroom facilities and other details, but council finally agreed to transfer the money during the regularly-scheduled meeting.

Vice Mayor Jim Reed noted dozens of community members were involved in getting the performance space to this point.

“Priority 1 is that you guys succeed,” he said. “Is there anything in the agreement that gives you pause?”

Larry Smith, the Guild’s president, said he was happy with the agreement that has been under discussion in closed sessions for months.

“At this point in our history together I feel I know each one of you, and that’s a really cool thing,” he said, adding City Manager Mail LaGoe had contributed some great ideas. “Mali knows about theaters. She knows how to have them succeed.”

The lease goes from July 1 to June 30, 2024, with an option to extend for two more years.

While the City will only charge the Guild $1 per year, that only applies if they’re able to stay busy.

In the first year, the Guild is required to put on five major arts productions and rent the space out at least twice a month.

Then, in the second year, they’re required to host seven major performances and rent the venue at least weekly.

Councilmember Derek Timm called the project a “labor of love” that was finally coming to fruition.

“Thank you for the great work,” he said. “This is something the community is going to enjoy for a very long time.”

Timm, a real estate broker, said it was important to make sure the city was still left with a performance arts venue in the event the Guild went belly-up.

“Nonprofits can go away,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to lose the theater as a community asset.”

Smith said the Guild would want to retain ownership of the equipment if it parted ways with Scotts Valley, but would be willing to sell it off at a fair rate if they went bankrupt.

However, a third party would retain ownership of some of it.

Council agreed to these parameters, and directed staff to hammer out the specific wording later.

Councilmember Jack Dilles said he’s looking forward to catching a show there.

“It’s sterling,” he said. “It’s just an outstanding, beautiful theater.”

Dilles wondered if making it official would help generate interest from additional benefactors.

Smith said he was hopeful.

“My first move is to go to Salesforce,” he said, referring to the company that recently inked a deal with 1440 Multiversity to hold work retreats in Scotts Valley. “Let’s talk in two months.”

Councilman Randy Johnson recalled how many residents donated time toward the theater’s completion.

“I probably wasn’t there as many Saturdays as I should have been,” he said. “In the end, all things worked out kinda well.”

Scotts Valley Unified School District has been guaranteed access to the facility for up to six performances a year, on top of eight rehearsals.

The city will get 12 days (or 96 hours) of use for Recreation Division activities.

The library will also have 12 full days to use for its activities.

Drew Penner
Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]

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