Theater company sets the stage for new venue

Theater company sets the stage for new venue
Tom Stephenson appearing in the Intrepid Shakespeare Company’s 2014 production of “All My Sons.” The theater company, which currently hosts its performances at the San Marcos High School Performing Arts Center, is proposing to build a theater on the city-owned 0.7-acre parcel in the Town Center of Encinitas Ranch. Photo by Daren Scott

ENCINITAS — A local theater company has reached out to the city about building a permanent facility on a city-owned piece of land in the Encinitas Ranch Town Center long targeted for a performing arts venue.

The Intrepid Theatre Company, which currently hosts its performances at the San Marcos High School Performing Arts Center, submitted a proposal to build a theater on the paid of land that the city has specifically earmarked as a performance arts space.

Intrepid’s proposes to build the facility in exchange for a low-rate lease.

Originally, Intrepid had submitted a proposal last December to build “the development of a base of performing arts in Encinitas” on a portion of the grounds of Pacific View Elementary.

At the conclusion of a city council meeting in February, Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar requested that Intrepid’s proposal be brought back for discussion at a future council meeting.

“I think it is important that we give this proposal a serious look,” Gaspar said.

Intrepid CEO Christy Yael-Cox confirmed that the theater group has since shifted its interest to the Encinitas Ranch location, but declined to discuss details until the item appears on the agenda, which could happen in the next few weeks.

“We really don’t have much to discuss until it appears on the agenda,” Yael-Cox said.

In 1994, the Encinitas City Council adopted the Encinitas Ranch Specific Plan, which set aside the 0.7-acre parcel in the Town Center for a performing arts space.

Over the years, several theater companies have unsuccessfully attempted to gain tenancy at the location.

Currently in its sixth year, Intrepid boasts massive year-over-year growth in both revenue and programming — its revenue has grown 70 to 75 percent year-over-year, and 35,000 people have attended their main stage productions since its inception, 60 to 65 percent of which they estimate are from Encinitas and Leucadia.

Prior to relocating operations to the San Marcos location, Intrepid used the performing arts center at San Dieguito High School Academy as its primary performance venue.

According to the original proposal obtained by The Coast News, which was dated Dec. 22, 2014, Intrepid looks to model its potential partnership with the city after that of Moonlight Stage Productions and the city of Vista.

“Since its inception, Moonlight…has put Vista on the map as a theatrical hub in San Diego, drawing audiences of over 60,000 guests each year to patronize the local community and build the cultural notoriety of the neighborhood,” Yael-Cox wrote in the proposal. “Even after three decades of theater production, Moonlight continues to create opportunities for loyal theatre-goers to support the City of Vista.”

Vista’s model, however, has several substantial differences to the model proposed by Intrepid.

Vista substantially subsidizes the operations at Moonlight, which performs out of the eponymous amphitheater in Brengle Terrace Park. Taxpayers paid for the $13.9 million renovation of the Moonlight Terrace Amphitheater as part of the $100 million voter-approved bond measure known as Proposition L.

During the Great Recession, Moonlight’s philanthropic organization announced an ambitious fundraising campaign to offset the city’s subsidy after Vista officials announced they couldn’t afford to subsidize both the theater and the city-owned Wave water park.

“We’re not asking for any taxpayer assistance,” Yael-Cox said.

 

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