The Poway City Council held a workshop on November 5 to discuss the future of the Poway Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA) operations. While the City values the contribution PCPA brings to the arts community, it is forecasting a challenging economic future and the current operating model at the PCPA is not sustainable.
A staff presentation looked at several operating options, ranging from no change to closing the facility. Options also included Poway Unified School District (PUSD) assuming responsibility for the center, which the district has expressed an interest in doing to provide greater access to student programming at Poway High School.
The purpose of the workshop wasn’t to select an option, but rather for City Council to provide staff direction on which option(s) the Council would like to explore further. The direction provided was for the City to enter into discussions with PUSD about their interest in the acquisition. The council made it clear that any agreement with PUSD would need to ensure that the facility continued to be available to Poway OnStage, which produces a professional performance series, and provided access to the numerous community groups that utilize the PCPA for performances. They also unanimously voiced that they would not pursue the option to close to the facility – the PCPA is a valuable asset to the Poway community.
Council requested that the City continue accepting facility reservations at the PCPA, so Poway OnStage and community rental groups can continue the normal process of making reservations for the 2020-21 performance season.
The results of discussions with PUSD will be shared with the Council at a future meeting.
The City Faces Tough Choices in the Future
A workshop was scheduled to look at PCPA options because the City is facing a challenging economic future. Poway is experiencing very little growth except for a few redevelopment projects on Poway Road. There is only a slight increase projected for both sales tax and property tax, which are the primary revenue sources that support general city operations such as fire, law enforcement, and parks and recreation (which includes the PCPA).
While revenues are fairly flat, expenditures – including the City’s contract with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement services – continue to grow. Without significant changes to either revenue or expenditures, the City anticipates making difficult decisions in the near future regarding program funding and service levels. Given the City’s economic outlook, the current operating model at the PCPA is not sustainable.