Third act on the horizon for Palm Springs Cultural Center

Like most local nonprofits, the Palm Springs Cultural Center has learned to get more creative to stay afloat over the past few years. Camelot Theaters, which the center runs, has not been immune to the many challenges of the pandemic. But a valiant third act seems to be on the horizon.

“There’s a lot to be excited about now,” says Michael C. Green, executive director of the Palm Springs Cultural Center. “But we have a long way to go. After we reopened, people were still worried about coming back to an indoor venue, especially a theater space. One of the things we’ve done over the past few years has been to try to diversify our programming. Just as COVID hit, we launched, and then recently relaunched, our live music program.

The relatively new business offers live music in the second-floor lounge every Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Special events take place on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. There is no entrance fee and a happy hour menu is offered.

“That’s one of the things that allowed us to get people to come to a smaller setting where they felt more comfortable,” Green says. “And when the weather is nice, we open the balcony doors. This is a great place to go and experience live music.

Undoubtedly a great venue, Green notes that the space hasn’t been renovated since 1999. Tables and chairs may need replacing or re-covering. The walls could benefit from a fresh coat of paint. Carpets need to be replaced. The electrical system requires standard maintenance.

Green says when philanthropists Anne Shefferformer chair of the Palm Springs Public Arts Commission, and her husband, Bill Schefflerlearned of the situation, they “rushed in to help us recreate and remodel the upstairs living room”.

To that end, the Palm Springs Cultural Center recently received a grant from Inland Empire Community Foundation through the Donor Advised Fund Sheffer/Scheffler. The funds will be used to help with the renovation, which Green says will improve the overall live entertainment experience on offer.

“We really want to continue to energize this program, which has been very important to us because the goal is to invite people into a space where they feel comfortable, and it works,” he says. “So while movie attendance has declined, attendance at live music events has increased and in many cases is selling out weekly. It will be of great help to us from this point of view.

Typically the lounge seats 50 people, 65 in ideal weather with the balcony doors open.

Overall, Green cites the need to keep performance spaces active in uncertain times. Funding plays a key role here.

Philanthropists Ric and Rozene Supple bought the Camelot Theater in 1997, primarily as a portal for the Palm Springs International Film Festival. The Supples donated the theater to the Palm Springs Cultural Center in 2017, and the venue has remained active as a nonprofit center ever since, offering new programming, including talks and live theater.

Rozene Supple’s death in July drew attention to and, perhaps, a reminder of the center’s original philanthropic intentions and mission: to provide the Valley with unique experiences in arts and culture, film, education, performing arts, etc. .

“A lot of people might assume we were subsidized in some way by the Supple family, and that’s not the case,” Green says. “We are delighted to have had the support of family over the years, but we are still a non-profit organization. No one guarantees us money. Funding must be sought. We need to raise funds, either by getting grants or by organizing events and getting sponsorships.

“Because this has been such an institution, we work very hard to raise funds to keep the building thriving and available to the community,” says Green, noting that sometimes in any given month the organization can work with 100 different local groups. who wish to rent a space or who need a given space for meetings.

“I think now more than ever, funding is critical,” says Green. “A lot of people may think the pandemic crisis is over, but for arts organizations it certainly isn’t. Funding has become harder to come by than ever because so many people are in need right now. We were fortunate to receive the government funding that was available, but the challenge now, after a year and a half of forced closure, is clear: we must keep moving forward. »

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