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East County Performing Arts Center

SDTheater (2012-06-06) Paul Kruze

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Dear Readers ...

A Guest Editor's Note - this issue
by PAUL KRUZE - increases our
awareness - of what is happening
to a favorite East County THEATER
many of us have enjoyed over the
years ... the
East County

A vocal group of passionate El Cajon
arts supporters received good news
last week with the decision by the
El Cajon City Council to reverse a late
March 4-0 vote to commence talks
with a local developer to demolish
the three decades old 1,142 seat
East County Performing Arts Center
(ECPAC), and replace it with a hotel
with a 500-seat multipurpose
room and theater.
ECPAC Auditorium interior

Located in the center of downtown
El Cajon, the theater was built in 1977
by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca College
District. After not being able to fulfill
its mission for the theater and budget
shortfalls, it was deeded to the City
of El Cajon some twenty years later.

Over the decade, ECPAC has had its
successes - but it has also been
fraught with financial losses, politics,
and management failures - including
two attempts by Paul Russell’s
Christian Community Theater. The
latest salvo came in December 2009,
when the city council voted to shut
down the theater - to address what a
consultant hired by the city regarded
as a strong need - to technically and
physically upgrade the theater.

While El Cajon Mayor Mark Lewis and
city council vowed - to reopen the
theater within two years - the ensuing
poor economy and other city spending
on basic infrastructure - has languished
the theater into darkness both physically
and politically. The mid-season closure
caused many theater renters and local
performing arts groups (including the
Grossmont Community Concerts Assoc.
the Grossmont Symphony Orchestra
& the Christian Youth Theater
) ...
scrambling for alternate area
performance venues.
ECPAC backstage area

The citizen’s group which raised the
strongest objection to ECPAC’s razing,
the newly-formed ECPAC Foundation,
was invited by councilman Tony
Ambrose to submit a business plan
aiming towards reopening the theater.

In an on-camera interview with East
County Magazine, councilman Bill Wells
said, “there’s a lot a warm feelings for
_the ECPAC center. There’s a lot of
discomfort about tearing down a
perfectly good theater and building
another one. I think it is about being
creative and finding a better solution.”_

The ECPAC - has been consistently
recognized for its excellent sightlines
and acoustics - and has been the venue
for many artists and groups, such as
Tony Bennett, the Dixie Chicks,
the London City Opera, San Diego
Ballet, Judy Collins, Tim Flannery,
Neil Sedaka, Diavolo Dance Theatre,
Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Natalie
Mac Master, and in its earlier days,
the San Diego Symphony Orchestra.

Neal Arthur - the local developer who
had proposed razing ECPAC, is
to resubmit his plans for a 107-room
four star hotel including the existing
theater in its development in the very
near future. - by Paul Kruze

The ECPAC Foundation website at

We applaud Paul Kruze and the ECPAC
Foundation for their determined efforts
to save one of SD's valued 'theaters' -
which we should not lose ... watch for
a special "fundraiser" soon - for the
revival of the East County Performing
Arts Center, and we offer here our 'nod'
of appreciation.

... Editor
Rob Appel


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Title East County Performing Arts Center
Publisher SDTheater
Author Paul Kruze
Pub Date 2012-06-06
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Topic revision: r1 - 06 Jun 2012, RaymondLutz
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