The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium project is moving forward! We are thrilled and heartened by the dedication and commitment city staff has shown in so quickly developing the outline for the Civic Working Group that will determine the next steps toward a new era of greatness at the Civic. The proposal that will come before council this Tuesday, August 13, is to create a 9 person working group that will include representatives from each of 4 relevant city commissions and 5 members of the public who have professional expertise in areas that will together create an experienced and creative knowledge base. The working group will refine the vision of the Civic as the hub of a cultural campus, explore possible adjacent uses to enhance it, and explore funding options. A public process will gather input and build consensus for a vision that is best for the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, for the Santa Monica Community and our cultural needs overall.
Here’s the nitty gritty on the group. Four of the nine members will be current or former members of each of these four commissions: Arts, Landmarks, Planning and Recreation and Parks. If council approves the plan, the commissions will make their appointments at their September meetings. The other five members will be people with personal and professional expertise and experience in the following areas: Strategic planning, policy development, performing arts production, venue operations, real estate development, construction, fundraising, and event management. Collectively, they will represent a body of knowledge that will creatively and effectively define the future of the Civic. It will be a two year commitment that will include monthly meetings as well as possible subcommittees and special meetings.
But here’s the rub. The five professional members of the working group must all live, work, or own a business in Santa Monica. Save the Civic urges the City Council to drop this criteria.
We feel that the pool of talent in the entertainment-centric Southern California region is so rich, that such a requirement would limit our access to many bright and willing applicants who are based close enough to Santa Monica and are familiar enough with our ways to be great possibilities. While most of our Santa Monica commissions are required to draw from a local pool for good reason, this working group is a special situation where we would be greatly benefitted by drawing from the amazing resources of the Los Angeles area as a whole. Let’s cast a wide net and end up with the best possible combination of expertise.