At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Santa Clarita City Council approved an MOU
(Memorandum of Understanding) with College of the Canyons concerning use of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center.
Gail Ortiz, Communications Manager for the city of Santa Clarita, explained, “What that means is that the city and the college would come to an agreement that would allow local arts organizations in our city to utilize the performing arts center at a special rate because of this memorandum of understanding.”
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TimBen Boydston, Executive Director of the Canyon Theatre Guild, applauded the council’s decision, calling the relationship with the Performing Arts Center, “A critical part of the city's cultural fabric.”
According to the MOU, the cost to the city is $70,000 dollars payable to the College of the Canyons. This will enable local arts groups to use the Performing Arts Center (PAC) over the next year starting July 1 through June 30, 2012.
The $70,000 is part of the city’s budget for 2011 – 2012 and comes from the general fund. Of this sum, $20,000 will be applied toward the Managing Director’s salary, $15,000 will be applied to the shared Arts Grant Writer position, and $35,000 will be applied toward the deferred maintenance of the PAC.
In 2009, the City of Santa Clarita contributed $2.4 million dollars toward the construction of the PAC to expand its facilities.
“The idea was that it would enlarge the facility so it went from 4-5 hundred seats to 925 seats with that 2 million dollars to accommodate a larger audience,” Ortiz said.
However, this quid pro quo arrangement was not without its troubles. As the current MOU was nearing expiration the Santa Clarita Community College District expressed concerns that the $70,000 paid by the city was not sufficient to cover the cost associated with the use by the local non-profits. In addition, the district requested an additional $35,000 for their K-12 Education Program.
The current MOU was set to expire on June 30 unless city staff and the district could come to an agreement. On March 17, the City’s Arts Commission approved an MOU with the district similar in form and substance to the one set to expire. City staff and now the City Council have followed their recommendation.
Although the amount of money paid by the city will not change, there are two notable amendments to the MOU:
Section 10 Term – Both parties will begin discussions to develop a new MOU starting in July 2011, instead of February 2012. Additionally, negotiations are to be completed by November 2011, whereas the close of negotiations was previously undefined.
Section 11 Termination - Either party may, with or without cause, terminate the agreement by providing one-hundred and eighty (180) days notice in writing, instead of sixty (60) days as previously defined.
One private citizen, addressing the council, expressed a desire for the city to adopt a five year plan with a long term view.
Ortiz says with the differences “ironed out” between the parties they are now “walking hand-in-hand” together.