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It’s a First Wednesday and We’re Feeling Free “Behind-the-Curtain”!

By   /  October 9, 2018  /  No Comments


 Suze Diaz — Escondido, CA …Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes at one of the premiere venues in North San Diego County? This past Wednesday, the California Center for the Arts Escondido generously opened their huge house to the public for a “Behind-the-Curtain” tour before October’s “First Wednesdays” concert series for the 2018-2019 Season.

Opened on October 1, 1994 and located in city-owned buildings close to Escondido’s City Hall, the Center is a 501 (c)(3) not-for-profit organization and is home to a beautifully designed 1,523-seat Concert Hall with orchestra pit and a wonderfully stocked bar; a 404-seat intimately comfortable Center Theater also with a stocked bar; a uniquely multifaceted 9,000 square foot museum that features four exhibitions annually and is divided into three distinct galleries with an adjourning 5,000 square foot sculpture courtyard; four functionally spacious art and education studios that service up to 350 children weekly in art and dance classes; administrative offices; vast “Great Green” areas; a highly effective 9,000 square foot conference center complete with a ballroom, several meeting rooms and a foyer ready to serve any event. Dining and banquet services are also available. The on-site chef and sous chefs create culinary delights for over 300 gathering events a year (with seating up to 1,000 people) including weddings, bar mitzvahs, quinceñeras, tradeshows and corporate meetings. VIP dining experience complete with special themed menus are held in either the Lyric Court or the newly remodeled California Center courtyard prior to select concert performances. Any part of the Center’s campus can be available to reserve for any event and quotes can be requested on the website.

Photos by Suze Diaz

The Center for the Arts Foundation Board of Trustees and staff are committed to managing the Center with good stewardship practices. Revenues are acquired from rental revenue, grants, memberships and sponsorships, services fees and from the City of Escondido. All revenues go right back into the Center to support all programs offered. Full disclosure of the Center’s financial status is found on the website.

Starting the tour in the intimately comfortable California Club, Executive Director Jerry Van Leeuwen, gave quick insight on the Center’s beginning and notable achievements. Approximately 280,000 people have been through the Center’s doors attending one of many diverse events last season. There were about 34 paid shows, 10 of which were sold-out shows. First Wednesdays was an idea cultivated to give the community access to multicultural presentations for free. Earlier this year, the Center was chosen as one of fifteen cities in the country (and the first and only city in California) to be awarded the Levitt AMP Grant giving opportunities to present free live outdoor concerts complete with food trucks, local makers market, beer and wine gardens on Saturdays until November 3rd. Opening receptions for the museum are open to the public for a nominal fee to get an early look at current exhibitions featured and partake of delicious appetizers and beverages created by the on-site culinary team. There is always something going on at the Center with more than one event in progress at any given time. The Center’s calendar online gives great detail of what is presented on any given day.

After a “getting-to-know-you” introduction and welcoming feedback from each “Behind-the-Curtain” attendee, the tour commenced with Director of Community Engagement Lenise Andrade and Donor Relations Coordinator Kari Bishop on hand to answer any questions and share more about the various museum, arts education and community event programs that people may not know. Volunteering at the Center is highly welcomed and the next orientation is slated for Wednesday, October 10th. Executive Assistant Judy Godoy is the best contact person for volunteering and can be reached at 760-839-4161 for more details.

Getting a closer look at the Center Theater tech office, dressing rooms and backstage included a sneak preview of the current opera “Tosca” with its next showing on October 14th at 3 PM. With the Concert Hall in preparation for First Wednesdays’ performance with “Voices of Our City Choir”, the tour made way to the museum where the current exhibition “Desescondido: No Longer Hidden” is in residence until November 18th. Special notable stories of some of the artists’ submissions gave new insight to the showcase including the origin of donated mosaic artwork that is displayed in the walkway in front of the doors of the museum. Walking through the conference rooms and spacious salons allowed the imagination to run wild at the types of social functions that could find a home within its multipurpose walls. An amusing fact of the conference area is that there is a fully functional popcorn machine wagon handy to bring extra fun.

Whatever the needs may be for education or entertainment in the community, the California Center for the Arts Escondido is ready, willing and committed to make the vital arrangements for any event a success. Take a look at 2018-2019 Season’s calendar to see what pleasurable experiences can be enjoyed. It is a wonderful place to “Discover, Create and Celebrate”!

For a visual look at some of the hot spots at the California Center for the Arts Escondido, check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/theCCAE/ and their Instagram accounts @theccae and @eventsattheccae

To find more details about the California Center for the Arts Escondido’s upcoming events, concert series, membership, art education outreach programs and free community events or to give suggestions and feedback, please visit http://artcenter.org


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  • Published: 8 months ago on October 9, 2018
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  • Last Modified: October 9, 2018 @ 12:12 am
  • Filed Under: North County

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