Greater vision needed to make ECPAC profitable

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In November, I had the opportunity to see “Evita” at the San Diego Civic Center. This is one of my favorite venues in the county, and it always has a great variety of performances from all over the world that can suit the needs of many. While there, I noticed that in January, “Beauty and the Beast” is coming to town.

In November, I had the opportunity to see “Evita” at the San Diego Civic Center. This is one of my favorite venues in the county, and it always has a great variety of performances from all over the world that can suit the needs of many. While there, I noticed that in January, “Beauty and the Beast” is coming to town.

My 8-year-old granddaughter, has always had a love for music, but recently is blossoming into quite the little performer. Before going to the show, I had seen a video taken by my son of her doing karaoke at her grade school Halloween festival. He told me that is all she wanted to do while there. I was dumbfounded when I watched her perform. With a little prodding from her dad and papa, she has learned many of the classics that we both love listening to. The best video was her performing Guns N Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” And she did it without missing a beat.

So this Christmas, with a lot of help from the rest of the family, I will be taking her to her very first exposure to live Broadway music. It is something that is important to me, to show her other musical careers, genres and venues and she is at the perfect age for it to make a positive impact on her and show her that there is more than being a rock star.

I am familiar performing with a singing group (I am no soloist) in many of the venues in San Diego County. In the 90s, this gave me opportunity to perform at many local venues including the Del Mar Fair Grounds, Lyceum Theatre, Spreckels Theater, opening for the Padres with the “Star Spangled Banner,” and the Super Bowl pre-game show held here in San Diego and more.

During the two weeks that El Cajon city council members interviewed applicants for the vacant seat left by Mayor Bill Wells, Councilmember Bob McClellan asked all applicants the following question. “What do you think the future of the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) should be?”

This question was an epic failure on the part of most applicants. Many had no idea, others kept the vision for local community performances of schools and non-profits and one even said that there was no way for El Cajon to compete with local casino entertainment venues. Very few gave a credible answer, even those that know the history of ECPAC very well.

With $2.8 million slated for the renovation and reopening of the center, there are multiple facets that need to be taken into consideration to make it work this time.

First, it has to be a destination for all people in San Diego County. In order for this to happen, it needs the ability to house Broadway performances like the Civic Theater. It not only allows East County residents to see a great show without travelling into downtown San Diego, but it offers the opportunity to give people outside of East County another destination for prime entertainment.

El Cajon can easily compete with the area casinos. There are many mainstream artists, both current and timeless that jump on the opportunity for smaller “unplugged” venues where they actually get the chance to interact with a smaller group of fans. These smaller concerts are a big draw for fans. This is one reason that Humphreys Concerts by the Bay is such a popular venue.

ECPAC needs to make place for local shows and would save performers like the East County Youth Symphony or Rubio’s Performing Arts from having to leave East County to find a suitable venue to perform.

To be profitable eventually, it will take some of El Cajon’s money to kick-start the center, but with good management, great vision and the ability to think big, if all of these ideas are placed into action, the ECPAC not only will serve the community, but be profitable, self-sustaining and a destination for all—including our neighbors.

Greater vision needed to make ECPAC profitable