Carnival Center to be fully staffed in dark weeks, officials say
By April M. Havens
Even with no performances scheduled for August or September and what officials are calling routine maintenance planned for August, the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts will operate with a full staff during the summer months, center officials say.
"We will not close completely," CEO Michael C. Hardy said. "Our full staff will continue to come in. The only change will be that the stagehands, who are not part of the regular staff and come in only for performances, will not be called in."
All other employees will work regular hours, Mr. Hardy said. "Summer is actually quite busy for some departments. We will still be cooling the building, having social events and having meetings here."
Summer rental events continue to be scheduled in function rooms, and the box office will be open for ticket sales, said Suzette Espinosa, media and public relations manager. "We will be conducting maintenance work on our stages and in our auditoriums in August, and depending on how smoothly that goes, it is possible we could add performances in those spaces as the summer progresses," she said.
The Ziff Ballet Opera House and Knight Concert Hall are the only two meeting spaces affected by the maintenance, Mr. Hardy said. "In the ballet opera house, we are having the contracting company come in to finish the stage, which will include some electrical control work," Mr. Hardy said. "That should take about two weeks."
In the concert hall, there is a variety of maintenance scheduled. "We will be cleaning it, hanging speakers, working on lighting and doing other minor repairs," Mr. Hardy said.
He said closure of the center is unrelated to financial troubles. "There are likely to be at least a couple weeks a year, coming at different times but often in summer, where we will want to take down the theaters for a two-week cleaning and minor repair period," Mr. Hardy said. "This is common for performing-arts centers."
Because events typically are scheduled six to eight months in advance, Mr. Hardy said, there is some flexibility, but it is most convenient to schedule maintenance during the slower summer months. "But if a good show came along, we would likely try to shift maintenance around to accommodate it," he said.
Mr. Hardy had told county commissioners in May that closing the center for the summer would be a way to save on operating costs. He projected a net savings of a little more than $1 million by shutting down.
Carnival Center officials await a June 26 County Commission decision for $4.1 million in hotel bed-tax funding to keep the center afloat through September. Mr. Hardy said he thinks the Carnival Center has sufficient commission support and credits County Manager George Burgess as doing "a terrific job of getting our message out there."
If county commissioners decline the funding request, Mr. Hardy said he will "do what we have to do" to keep the center running.