Plans are evolving at a breakneck pace for a group of theater aficionados seeking to create a 300-seat theater in a 9,000-square-foot facility adjacent to the Scotts Valley Library.
The Scotts Valley City Council unanimously voted during its Wednesday, Feb. 20, meeting to enter into a 180-day memorandum of understanding with the Scotts Valley Community Theater Guild — formerly known as The Stagehand Group — to allow the organization to create a business plan for its proposed nonprofit.
The guild hopes the nonprofit will operate a theater in the building on Kings Village Road.
According to Lee Besse, one of the guild’s leaders, in the two months since the group first approached the city on Dec. 5, the organization has elected a nine-member board of directors and is in the process of creating rules and bylaws before applying for 501(c)3 nonprofit status.
“This thing is starting to come into focus,” he said.
Once the nonprofit status is confirmed, Besse said, the organization would begin exploring routes to raise the estimated $3.5 million believed necessary to renovate the facility and turn it into a proper theater.
“It’s a real tall order,” he said. “The next six months will be us trying to validate this business case.”
Following the nonprofit approval, Besse said that the organization would then send emissaries to large companies in the area to seek support and funding.
The second part of the fundraising effort, he said, will likely focus on smaller businesses and individuals to pay for the theater’s operations costs once the facility is up and running — costs that will include as many as four full-time staffers.
“It’s a big laundry list of items,” Besse said. “We are exploring a number of different avenues to see how that might happen.”
The guild will present the council with proven sources of contributed funds before settling on a lease agreement.
Once the theater opens, Beese said, the plan is for it to be more or less self-sustaining by serving as a performance venue for lectures, as well as musical and comedy acts. However, funding must come from private parties, sponsorships and operations because city leaders have said there is no money in the city coffers to contribute to a project.
“We could have all kinds of different activities in there,” Besse said. “There’s a huge number of ways in which talent can come use this theater.”
The guild’s rapid progress — as well as the dedication of its members — was applauded by members of the council.
“One thing a group like this brings is a passion,” said Mayor Randy Johnson, adding that having a theater in the planned Town Center would be “bigger than Scotts Valley.”
Councilman Dene Bustichi echoed the mayor’s statements, calling the organization’s progress “substantial.”