CriticalDance Forum

Venues from Hell
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Author:  Azlan [ Mon May 14, 2001 12:26 am ]
Post subject:  Venues from Hell

In Marie's thread, <a href=;f=8;t=000091 target=_blank>Guerilla Dance - Backstage Trench Wars</a>, we touched upon uncooperative venues. Well, here is one that has long had a reputation in the SF Bay Area for its unprofessionalism, exorbitant fees and small-town attitude. In the following article I would trust the comments from the artists even if one of the other interviewees seems to put down artist "attitudes" (we all know that city officials and businessmen board members tend to be somewhat politically savvy, unlike bridge-burning artists who tell it like it is :) ):

The Regional Center: Does it play too hard by the rules?

Blair Tindall, Contra Costa Times

Success often comes with a price. At Walnut Creek's Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts, the cost is a growing competition between community and regional groups for performance dates, and charges that management is inflexible and runs the premier venue with an iron fist.


But although demand for space is a contentious issue, once performers land the dates, they complain that they must contend with the RCA's labyrinthine rules, meant to control backstage traffic jams. But some performers wonder why they are paying rent to be subjected to what they call rigid access regulations, uncooperative stage crews and a consistent lack of respect from RCA staffers.

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<small>[ 08-11-2002, 17:12: Message edited by: Azlan ]</small>

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue May 15, 2001 2:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

Sounds like a nightmare venue. Why are we forced to deal with these power hungry jerks in theater management. We're all just trying to make art and have fun. Can't we all just get along?

Author:  DavidH [ Tue May 15, 2001 5:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell


Author:  salzberg [ Wed May 16, 2001 5:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

I managed a theatre in Houston for twelve years. I found that to have less stringent rules for the professional users led to cries of "if they can do it, why can't we?". . .and some of our "professional" users were. . .less professional in attitude than were some of our amateurs (one very influential user -- 7 times in 7 years -- contracted with major artists to appear in the venue <I>before</I> checking with my office to see if the hall was available. . .and -- 7 times in 7 years -- raised holy hell because I wouldn't cancelled a confirmed reservation to accommodate him). <P>The worst vandalism occurred during the "Showstoppers"-type dance competitions -- walls defaced, tampons flushed (en masse) down the toilets, soft drinks smuggled into the house (and then spilled).<P>Thoughts about security:<P>My bet is that the same people who are complaining about tight security will be the first and loudest to shout if relaxed procedures result in dressing room thefts.<P>Having said that, for shows less complicated than rock concerts (which have a <I>lot</I> of people going in and out of backstage), security passes are overkill; it's easier (and cheaper) for the stage door guard to keep a list of people who are to have access.

Author:  Cyman [ Wed May 16, 2001 7:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

Well it took this expose to drag me out of the shadows, lurking is what I do best! ha<P>Salzberg, excellent and insightful comments on your experience.<P>What I found interesting about the article is that she didn't touch on Mr. Denison's conflict of interest in running that place. He's the manager of the center, the general manager of the repertory company, his mother-in-law is the director of the Ballet Joyeux that is mentioned and he is hired and paid as a lighting designer for a number of organizations that use the theater(s). <P>Anyone care to comment? <P>Cy<BR>

Author:  Basheva [ Wed May 16, 2001 9:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

Welcome to the board, Cymen - it's great to have you join us.<P>I am afraid there are quite a number of incestuous relationships in the dance/theater world, but probably that is also true in other spheres of interest also.<P>Doesn't make it right...that's for sure.<p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited May 16, 2001).]

Author:  Cyman [ Wed May 16, 2001 9:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

Thanks Basheva. I've been reading Criticaldance for some time now. <P>Somehow I feel this conflict of interest goes beyond nepotism. The Regional Center is a owned and operated by the City of Walnut Creek. In my mind it isn't proper to have one man sitting in so many positions that really do conflict with each other. You don't think Mr. Denison sees that the organizations that he works for get the best dates and treatment? Many of us in the local theatre scene think so. <BR>Food for thought? <P>Cy

Author:  Elaine [ Wed May 16, 2001 10:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

First of all, I agree that there should be some investigation into the issue of conflict of interest. We all know it happens, but the city opens itself up to a problem if they are allowing it to happen.<P>Second of all, I can't decide whether to scream "Get a grip!" or "Quit whining!". So, instead, I shall share with you a settlement I just received two days ago.<P>First of all, some background. My dance company is considered a "C-Level" rate in this theater. I have never met or heard of who the B-Levels are (if there are any), but I know the A-Levels are the Broadway series, the ballet, and some others. By being C-Level, I have the reduced rate package, both for the hall itself, and the stagehands (IA). This bill was for a three day rental - Thursday through Saturday, with two performances, one Friday, one Saturday.<P>Hall Rental - $2,550 (@ $850 a day, Sun-Wed are cheaper)<BR>Liability Insurance - $240 ($120/perf)<BR>Box Office Service - $700 ($350/perf)<BR>Ticket Printing - $60.00 ($30/perf)<BR>Marquee Message Setup - $30.00<BR>Front of House Staff - $600.00 ($300/perf)<BR>Lighting System Rental - $570.00 ($285/perf)<BR>Sound System Rental - $280.00 ($140/perf)<BR>Microphones - $110.00 This was 5 floor mics and one announce mic<BR>Dance Floor - $140.00 ($100 first show, $40 next)<BR>Video System - $375.00 (We elect to video our shows)<BR>Performance Permit - $60.00<BR>Stage Supplies - $317.00*<BR>Stage Labor - $3,234.49*<BR>Labor subsidzed by renter ($161.72)<BR>_____________________________________<BR>Total Bill= $9,198.82<P>*Stage supplies - Part of this is being charged for the floor tape to put the floor down, but the majority is for video stock. I had run out, and due to time contraints, needed to purchase theirs.<P>* Labor: <BR>Thursday: 8 hours load in - 8 people<BR>4 hour tech - 4 people<BR>Friday - 15.5 hour day - 5 people<BR>Saturday - 7 hour day (4 hour show call - 5 people), 3 hour out, added 3 people...1.5 hours in overtime<P><BR>What is not reflected in here is: <P> - the $285 phone room charge - and an organization of our budget size must use their box office, if we are renting the space.<BR> - us hiring a videographer<BR> - renting a hazer<P><BR>And this was a condensed week, with a small budget for us. And I was proud that I pulled it off.<P>

Author:  Azlan [ Wed May 16, 2001 11:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

It is safe to say that a venue does not get a bad reputation among artists, administrators, directors, and inividuals from the community if there aren't reasons for them to have that reputation to begin with. Many of these people interviewed don't usually complain. The fact that they were moved to complain (and there are more than the ones interviewed) says something about the venue.<P>The City of Walnut Creek needs to take a long hard look at this situation. They don't realize how many people have been talking behind their backs about this venue. It is too late to defend themselves and the venue's management; the truth is out. They need to keep what works and fix the rest.

Author:  DavidH [ Wed May 16, 2001 11:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell


Author:  LMCtech [ Wed May 16, 2001 3:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

When I first read this article, my first impression was that there is not enough staff to handle the amount of events at this venue. That is of course a chronic problem in ALL venues of this type.<P>So what is the solution. There is a part of me that would love to see everyone fired across the board and an actually effective staff put in place, but that is never going to happen. Maybe a strategic production manager here or there?<P>As much as I think city sponsored venues like this are the answer to many problems, until the cities figure out they need to hire competent people and lots of them, I think we'll be seeing more of these same problems.<P>I wonder how they designate Classes of renters? This system seems destined to fail as well. Is there a preference given to local companies? Do they always hire the same amount of technicians regardless of the needs of the renter? Is there a lot of waste going on? Oh to be a fly on the wall in management meetings.

Author:  Elaine [ Wed May 16, 2001 3:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

The theater of which I speak bases the "class" system on annual budget. And priority is supposedly given to local companies. And of course, people here complain it is not...<P>When I read the rules and regulations of renting the space, it seemed pretty clear that they provide a core crew, and the leasee is responsible for the rest. And, they have say over who they consider to be responsible adults.<P>All in all I found the rental agreement pretty standard. Frankly, I rarely have seen a theater that enforced the backstage pass rule so vehemently, but many theaters have such rules on the books.<P>What I do think should be looked at is the staff's dealings with the leasees. Language such as is quoted is unacceptable.

Author:  trina [ Thu May 17, 2001 6:02 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

The budget didn't seem that out of line to me. How big is the house? Maybe this was mentioned alreay...sorry! This does sound like a terrible venue, with some nepotism and political problems....BUT! As a footnote, after working many years in theatre, I have to say that there are some groups (not many) who don't "get" the BASICS of "how to behave in a theatre". I am horrified when I see kids eating in the theatre, putting their shoes (street shoes, that is) up on the backs of the chairs, trash and gum on the floor, messy bathrooms. And they ruin it for eveyone else. To me (not wanting to sound overly grandiose), the theatre, ANY theatre, to me, is like being in a church, synagogue, mosque, whatever. Or better said, maybe a museum. It's a special place, not a playground, video arcade or gymnasium. I hold the adults/artistic directors of such companies/groups responsible; part of kid's dance education is not just learning to do a plie or a switch leap. It's etiquette and learning that you are part of a dance/theatre tradition. This kind of behavior shows NO understanding or respect of that tradition. Whew....sorry,,,didnt' mean to make a speech(!)<p>[This message has been edited by trina (edited May 17, 2001).]

Author:  DavidH [ Thu May 17, 2001 8:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell


Author:  Basheva [ Thu May 17, 2001 8:31 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Venues from Hell

Actually, as you are all describing some theaters - I find some dance studios the same way. Filthy bathrooms, unclean floors, icky stuff on the barres, bird droppings piled up on the window sills.<P>Some of the kids (and yes, adults too) don't know how to act, clean up after themselves, in a public place. Just simple common courtesy. I guess they are used to sitting in front of the TV, feet up, throwing popcorn around. <P>I saw a bunch of pre-professional level ballet students once sitting in an empty studio eating their lunch. They had bought fried chicken, and they left the bones, and other residuals just lying there on the floor. Amazing.....<P>Is there anything in these theater rental agreements about cleanup? Before? and after?

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