A few ground rules were set Tuesday night for those who wish to take an active part in saving the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and having its doors reopen.
Although the Civic Auditorium has been dark since June 30, City leaders and interested residents have expressed interest in having a venue that once served as the home of the Oscars revitalized as a top-flight entertainment destination.
Those vested in helping the Civic Auditorium make a comeback were given some clarity as to how they could be of service as city council members established the membership requirements of the Civic Working Group (CWG), a newly established advisory board.
The council’s unanimous vote also set up the advisory board’s objectives.
With the establishment of who could join the CWG, City Hall will be seeking nominations to fill the advisory group through September.
Nine members would serve the CWG in a two-year term.
Once operational, the CWG will, according to City staff, “provide professional and community input on the renovation, programming and long-term operation of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.”
Cultural Affairs manager Jessica Cusick told Council members the CWG would have to do more than just create a wish list of how they want to see the Civic Auditorium revitalized.
“The idea is that this group would help the community prioritize the preferred uses for the area around the Civic Auditorium, including the Civic Auditorium, everything from open space to a theater to whatever else the community thinks might work,” Cusick told council member members. “We’d also task this group with assessing the financial realities.
“It’s not just the development of a wish list, it’s how do we get there,” she added.
The CWG would work with the council in discussing alternatives and coming up with a plan of how the Civic Auditorium would ultimately be revitalized.
Council members and City staff discussed whether those allowed to join the nine-member panel should be limited to those who live, work, or do business in Santa Monica.
“Community participation and professional input are critical factors in developing a feasible plan for the future of the Civic. To structure an effective and timely planning process, staff recommends the establishment of a nine-member CWG,” City staff stated.
Once established, the CWG would, according to City staff, “draft a vision for the future cultural and community use of the Civic as the hub of a cultural campus” and “explore an appropriate mix of compatible adjacent uses, from open space to additional facilities.”
Other objectives include seeking all potential financing options, developing financial operating models for the venue, gathering community input, and providing the council with recommendations about feasible renovation options and overall vision for the Civic Auditorium.
The nine-member group would include four people who currently or previously served on the City’s Arts, Landmarks, Planning, and Recreation and Parks Commissions. The other members would be people with broad knowledge of Santa Monica and who possess professional expertise in one or more of a variety of relevant disciplines.
Assisting the CWG would be a three-member Technical Advisory Subcommittee that would provide professional and technical expertise about financing, management, and programming.
If all goes as planned, the CWG might have its first members appointed by October and have its first meeting in November.
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