Council considering new performance space

CARLSBAD — The City of Carlsbad needs flexible 400-600-seat performance space that could accommodate local and national performers, festivals and civic functions, a consultant told City Council Oct. 29.

If built as part of a new town hall project, the site could also provide space for council meetings. The recommendation was one of the findings of a cultural facilities needs assessment conducted by Webb Management Services, Inc., a New York City development, planning and consulting firm, under contract with the city. .

Consultants analyzed existing facilities in Carlsbad and the surrounding North County area and found that most were small or medium-sized, accommodating no more than 400 people – and had little or no availability. Their study also noted that the city’s outdoor performance facilities are temporary locations in parks and that the city lacks available studio space for performers.

The consultants came up with four recommendations:

  • Develop a high-quality, state-of-the-art facility that can accommodate up to 600 people.
  • Include spaces for rehearsals, cultural programs and teaching.
  • Create an outdoor performance and event venue that can accommodate large events and festivals and possibly up to 3,000 people. When not in use, this space can be used as a square or a park.
  • Develop an industrial art space with kilns for ceramics and equipment to create fiber art, woodworking and jewelry.

“One of the most intriguing aspects of their report was the recognition that audience tastes lean more towards multi-tiered events combining, performance, food, music, etc.,” said Richard Shultz, director of cultural arts at the city. “This indicates the need for future spaces to take into account changing perceptions of art events as social experiences.”

The consultants noted that the first three recommendations could be incorporated into Carlsbad’s still-developing plans to build a new city hall.

The city is analyzing potential sites for a new city hall that could include new public gathering and recreation spaces and an arts venue, and city officials said they will use the study to evaluate potential sites.

The consultants analyzed the demand in the city and discovered that 12 cultural organizations would be interested in using a new performing arts facility in Carlsbad. The study indicated that these groups need a space with a rehearsal room, flexible seating, changing rooms, a catering kitchen, and a lobby and ticket office.

The study indicates that high levels of education and income in and around Carlsbad show potential support for traditional performing arts such as ballet, theater, opera and classical music. He also noted that tourism, which is expected to increase, also provides potential audiences for a wide variety of events.