IT’S THE FINAL CURTAIN FOR DOWNEY CIVIC LIGHT OPERA, AND THIS ONE COULD BE A TRAGEDYBy Ben Baeder
And as the venerable institution closes its books, there’s drama unfolding between the city and the theater company.
Moode, who has served as the executive director for 12 years, said she is ready to retire from the DCLO and that the theater company will wither without her leadership. The company typically puts on three plays a year at the city-owned Downey Civic Theatre, one in the fall and two more in the spring. Each play is performed 10 times for a total of 30 shows per year.
“It’s not the work it takes to run it,” she said. “It’s the money. It’s an incredibly expensive thing to sustain, and I, me, I’ve been the one to do it for the last 12 years.”
Moode wants to wind down the DCLO’s work, settle its accounts and walk away gracefully, she said.
The city has told Moode that after the scheduled run of ‘Crazy for You’ from Sept. 28 to Oct. 14, the DCLO needs to hand over control of its box office for the last two runs of this season to VenueTech, a private company brought in by the city in 2010 to manage the theater.
VenueTech would have control of ticket income for the spring shows and then reimburse the DCLO for its costs.
Moode said she won’t give control of the box office to VenueTech.
“Our tickets are our income,” Moode said. “That would mean that everything would go to VenueTech and then we would have to ask them to cut us a check whenever we needed to pay bill. It’s not going to work.”
She said the theater has to pay for royalties and other costs.
“I don’t know why they’re changing everything for the last two shows in our long history,” she said. “I might as well close the office and go home.”
She addressed the City Council on Tuesday and asked them to reconsider. Mayor Roger Brossmer said the city would be willing to discuss the matter in a public session.
Downey’s interim director of community services, Arlene Salazar, said that the city is charging the DCLO a discounted rate for use of the theater. For years, the rate has been about $400 per day, but the price in June increased to $900. The city has agreed to allow the DCLO and the Downey Symphony Orchestra to pay $400 a day this fiscal year.
Other than the switch to using VenueTech to run the box office, the only other substantial difference this year compared to previous years is that the DCLO is being asked to pay a $600 deposit so VenueTech would have cash on hand to reimburse customers in the case that one of the shows had to be called off. Every other group that uses the theater lets VenueTech handle the box office, she said.
Regardless of the outcome of the box office dispute, Moode is certain this will be the 57-year-old organization’s last season.