Tri-Cities Voice Newspaper - What's Happening - Fremont, Union City, Newark California

December 13, 2005 > Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor

It is a shameful blot on the face of Fremont, a community of 210,000, that we do not have a quality performing arts center. Fremont is home to many, many talented people, who either have to perform in woefully inadequate spaces or go elsewhere. What's even worse, there's really no significant performance space in the entire east bay.

When I say there's inadequate performance space in Fremont, people always ask "What about the Smith Center at Ohlone?" They are always surprised to learn that this wonderful facility seats only 400, and as Ohlone's mission is education, the theater is only available for rent a portion of the time. We are blessed to have Ohlone's Smith Center, but it's not a solution Fremont Symphony's sold out performances at the Smith Center don't quite break even, while a larger venue could host an expanded audience, provide more revenue, and require less energy on fund-raising.

The Fremont Cultural Arts Council has been doggedly attempting to develop local performance space for the last 30+ years, starting back in the 1970's with an effort to save the theater at Washington High School, on through years of working with the City of Fremont, gathering community input, determining a location, and even going so far as to develop final architectural drawings for a 1200 seat performing arts and museum complex. The FCAC provided fund management during the development of the Center Theater business case, and we are supporting their efforts in every way we can. As the 'anchor' of the redeveloped Centerville business district, the Center Theater will bring back a quality of life remembered so fondly by those who recall attending evenings at the theater followed by a visit to Cloverdale Creamery. Although one converted movie theater cannot fill the need for a performing arts center, it will certainly help.

How does inadequate performance space impact the community? After all, we do have many talented artists doing an excellent job in small venues right here in Fremont...Broadway West, Music at the Mission and Star Struck Theater to name just a few. In addition, we are blessed with the outstanding theatrical productions put on by our schools, but where do we go if we want a grand evening out? Stage One presents their musicals at Newark High School. Mulan Flower by the Academy of Chinese Performing Art was presented at the Flint Center in Cupertino. We drive long distances to the Fox Theater in Redwood City, the San Jose Center for the Performing Arts, and the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek, deal with the cost and difficulty of parking, and spend our money out of the community when we go out for dinner and a show. It doesn't have to be this way...

Regards-Margaret Thornberry, President

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