ST. GEORGE – This week, St. George city officials were given a review of the goals and purpose behind the Electric Theater, as well as initial ideas of how it may be maintained once open. Still under construction and renovation, the facility is anticipated to be largely completed by the end of May.
Since the City of St. George purchased the Electric Theater and three adjacent building over two years ago, $3 million has been allocated to the building for the purpose of turning it into one of the anchors of the downtown arts district.
“The idea is for it to become an attraction that draws people downtown and emphasizes the arts,” Kent Perkins, the city’s director of Leisure Services, said Friday.
Other mainstays of the city’s developing art district include the St. George Children’s Museum and the St. George Opera House, he said.
In addition to becoming a potential draw for the downtown area, the Electric Theater is also slated to be a place where various nonprofit art groups can rent space for performances, galleries, workshops, educational programs, artist studios, administrative needs, storage and so forth. The facility will offer 18,000 square feet of usable space once completed.
During a St. George City Council work meeting Thursday, Perkins presented the council with a preliminary concept of the city’s proposed role in maintaining the Electric Theater as well as supporting its tenants.
In addition to providing rental space for various visual and performance-based artists and arts groups and maintaining the look and feel of the facility, the city will also supply tech support for performances and possibly assist in marketing needs.
City staff and arts groups would also work together to create and maintain a full calender of activities at the Electric Theater.
The city will also be able to run some of its own community programs and workshops out of the Electric Theater, Perkins said.
In addition to becoming a sustainable operation, overall goals for the facility include promoting cooperation between local art groups, building continued community support for the arts, and supporting existing and emerging artists.
“The No. 1 goal is to make it a sustainable operation,” Perkins said Friday.
Funding for the Electric Theater is anticipated to come from the rental fees collected from tenants, programs held at the facility, leasing out space for performances, fees charged for tech support, and the recently implemented RAP tax.
“This is just so exciting,” Councilwoman Bette Ariel said during Thursday’s meeting, adding she liked the emphasis on supporting local artists and arts groups.
Bobbi Wan-Kier, director of the annual Arts to Zion studio tour, attended the council meeting.
“The idea there’s a hub for (the arts) is exciting … I’m excited about the potential,” she said.
If implemented right, the Electric Theater could make St. George more of an arts destination, said Paul Jensen, a board member of the Southern Utah Arts Guild.
“When people see what’s going on in there, they’ll be blown away,” he said.
Once the Electric Theater is completed, the idea of a soft opening was suggested to the City Council, with a grand opening event possibly slated for the fall.
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