UPDATE: Santa Clarita considers likelihood of an amphitheater

FILE PHOTO: The crowd of Concerts in the Park get riled up as Queen Nation plays songs reminiscent of the legendary band, Queen, at Central Park in Santa Clarita on Saturday, June 8, 2017. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal
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It may or may not be feasible to build an outdoor amphitheater in the Santa Clarita Valley, so the city is contracting a firm to find out.

At their meeting Tuesday, the council will award a contract for $59,640 to AEA Consulting to conduct a study to decipher where an amphitheater may fit and how much it might cost.

Each location the firm scopes out will be evaluated for its advantages and disadvantages, but the firm will not make any recommendations in favor of one location or another, according to Santa Clarita’s Arts and Events Manager Phil Lantis.

“It’s really to just further explore and get a clearer concept from experts in the field,” Lantis said. “It’s really exciting.”

Whatever the arts commission and the city council decide on in the future will be based on the market and the community’s needs, he said.

Lantis estimates Santa Clarita’s amphitheater would seat between 2,000 to 3,000 people. He hopes it would host local concerts and serve as stops for musicians on tour.

“As seen with Concerts in the Park, our residents really love having the opportunity to see live music,” the arts and events manager said.

Among the arts community, there have been debates in favor of two types of performance venues.

Some people have looked in the past for a smaller performance space that would seat 350 to 1,000 people, according to David Stears, Executive Director of the Shakespeare Festival and a founding member of the Arts Alliance.

Recently, the focus has shifted to a much larger space for concerts that would seat between 3,000 and 6,000 people, Stears said.

This will be more of a city venue than a community venue, Stears clarified.

Building a place suitable for large events will not only make concert-goers happy, but it will make city-run functions easier to coordinate, he said.

“Having an amphitheater would be great because they could do things on a regular basis without having to set up all the resources,” Stears said.

Though, he warns that amphitheaters tend to sit empty most of the year and are difficult to make a profit. The cost of running events means most of the time, venues lose money.

But Stears said he does not want this to be a deterrent from building an amphitheater and still believes it would be an asset to Santa Clarita.

As funding for an amphitheater is not part of the Santa Clarita 2020 plan, the outdoor venue would not be built until after that time.

The hope of building an amphitheater has been discussed in the city since the late 1990s, according to Lantis.

AEA Consulting Firm is based out of New York and was one of six who placed a bid to do the study. The lowest bid was for $53,400 and the highest bid was for $67,500.

A Santa Clarita committee, comprised of arts commissioners and city staff members, chose the firm in part because Laura Zucker, who served as the executive director of the L.A. County Arts Commission for 25 years, is on their consulting team and knows Southern California art well.

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