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PAAC Board President Gary Blum told the crowd that the non-profit that runs the venue might respond to the city’s RFP. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, August 15, 2019

By Chris Frost


Oxnard—The Performing Arts Center in Oxnard was abuzz with activity Aug. 8, as residents discussed what they would like to see happen at the venue and keep it a thriving force for the arts.


The group also heard the latest from the Performing Arts Center Commission and the latest news about the city's effort to attract a vendor to operate the facility.


City Manager Alex Nguyen proposed closing the location because it was losing money. He was also worried about issues at the site that were not updated.


"I grew up here in Oxnard and many times I have been here for performances," he said. "I think I did graduation in junior high school."


More importantly, he said the meeting was to get feedback from the community and what the next steps should be for the venue.


"What do we do, what are needs and what are your thoughts," he said. 


Performing Arts Center President Gary Blum said the whole thing happened quickly for the community, board, and staff.


Blum said the RFP (Request for Proposals) was released Aug. 7, (36 hours before the meeting) and they only got to see it briefly.


"There is some history in it and some focusing of where everything should be going," he said.


He addressed the "Save the PACC" movement and said the venue isn't as threatened as the Carnegie Art Museum was and they were fortunate.


"When the city was looking at its financial woes, they probably didn't realize how many events were in the books, in negotiation and the number of employees in the non-profit corporation," he said. "That's the operating company that runs the PACC."


Blum addressed the most substantial concern from the community.


"When you hear "Save the PACC" it doesn't mean it's going to be boarded up," he said. "What we feel "save the PACC" means is that it's run by our citizens. The citizens of Oxnard built it. There is an incredible amount of citizenry in operating this facility over the years."


However, he felt there should have been more citizenry over the last 10 to 20 years.


"Things changed through the years, the city took on a bigger role in subsidizing the facility," he said. "That's where we come to today. In the past few months, we came to the realization that the city doesn't have the ability to do that, and how do we move forward?"


The winner of the RFP will mainly operate the auditorium, he said, but could potentially manage and see the entire site as a campus.


"Give some credit to the fourth floor (in city hall) specifically Ashley Golden," Blum said. "They did extensive research on other facilities like in communities throughout Southern California, and they found it difficult to find a facility like this."


The PACC is unique.


"We have a 1,600-seat auditorium, ballrooms, meeting rooms, and outdoor courtyards, he said. "There are auditoriums with some meeting space, but nothing quite exactly like ours."


He called it a different animal.


"That process of going through this RFP is going to be interesting to see the results."


"The PACC, (with a big c) the non-profit corporation, is envisioning an RFP either by ourselves or with some of the other event promotors who are looking at the facility," he said. "There are a lot of things on the table, but what you say tonight is critical for us."


This story will continue in the Aug. 23, edition of the Tri County Sentry.

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