The Bankhead Theater is in trouble.
The Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, which runs the theater, relies on donations and concert and play ticket sales to keep operations going. But they already have a huge debt, and also lost a big court battle over redevelopment agency funding.
For many of us longtime Livermore residents, the Bankhead Theater seems too new to already be facing closure. Since the theater opened in 2007, I have been to several concerts and a play there.
Having reasonably priced entertainment close to home is a luxury that I appreciate, but I admit I haven't been to the theater in a while. The possibility of losing the theater motivated me to check what is coming up. It turns out that at least one upcoming February show piqued my interest.
The Pink Floyd Concert Experience sounds good on Feb. 21, with a San Francisco-based tribute band recreating the live performances of the iconic band. The ticket prices are $33 to $43. General admission at the Fillmore in San Francisco on the same evening to see Bay Area band Alo costs $33, the same price as the lower-end tickets at the Bankhead.
It's hard to see how the Bankhead can compete head-to-head with some of the Bay Area's premier venues. But it is also a venue for local arts and lectures, such as the Livermore-Amador Symphony, which is performing the very next day. The symphony will perform Schubert's "Unfinished" Symphony No. 8 and Copland's "Lincoln Portrait." Tickets for this event, at $23 to $29, are a bit cheaper than the Pink Floyd tribute concert.
Even cheaper (free) are the four "Science on Saturday" presentations starting at 9:30 a.m. The first-come, first-served events are designed for middle and high school students and led by researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The dilemma is if the theater can't bring in enough revenue from big shows like the Pink Floyd tribute band, the symphony and science events will no longer have a first-rate Livermore venue.
On Feb. 25 the Guitar Passions concert at the Bankhead features three guitar virtuosos performing Latin-inspired jazz. Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Richard Marx will perform at the theater on Feb. 27.
The Bankhead was intended to be the smaller of two venues in Livermore. But plans for the larger regional theater have stalled. The latest blow was a loss in a $122 million lawsuit seeking redevelopment funds. LVPAC recently hired consultant David Hyslop to try to get the Bankhead Theater on more solid footing. The city also gave a $475,000 loan to LVPAC to help keep the theater going.
I know local teenagers who regularly perform in plays and musicals at the theater, and it would be a shame to take that experience away from them. Hyslop is calling on the community to donate to the theater or buy tickets to keep it going. For more information, visit wwww.livermoreperformingarts.org.
Contact Patrick Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.