By Miriam Raftery
April 19, 2013 (El Cajon) – On Tuesday, April 23, the El Cajon City Council will weigh creating an ad hoc committee to explore discussions with the Grossmont Union High School District Board on a potential partnership to revive the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC). The proposal could also include opening a new multi-use facility adjacent to the theater, in addition to restoring and reopening the theater itself.
"It's potentially beneficial (for the district), a great use for the East County region," City Manager Doug Williford (photo, left) said, the Union-Tribune reported. "However even without (the district as a partner), we're going to re-open it. There are only three or four venues like it - Golden Hall in downtown San Diego, Escondido and Poway. These are rare facilities. Arts and events centers are important components to a community. And this goes well beyond the city's boundaries."
At last weeks meeting of the GUHSD board, several trustees voiced support for the proposal. Board members Jim Kelley and Jim Stieringer agreed to meet with Council members Gary Kendrick and Bill Wells. Kendrick has been a vocal supporter of reopening the theater which has been closed for approximately three years due to needed repairs and lack of funding.
Trustees Priscilla Schreiber and Dick Hoy voiced concerns over using bond monies for the project.
The collaboration potentially could save the district money, however, if plans to build performing arts centers or multi-use centers on every campus in the district were scaled back and a central location at ECPAC used by some schools instead. The project could also give the district benefits such as a large venue for graduations and district meetings.
Ivars Bezdechi, who has been involved in a citizens’ group striving to restore the theater, calls the theater the “jewel” if the community and voiced support for the plan that he believes will “benefit not only all the students” but also the community at large.