Update on the Harris Center for the Arts
April 22, 2021
Dear Harris Center for the Arts Community,
Thank you again to everyone who attended our Virtual Town Hall meeting on March 2 (listen to recording). We remain incredibly grateful for the patience and commitment of Harris Center for the Arts (HCA) partners, donors, members, and volunteers as we navigate this difficult time. Since the Town Hall, we have been working with our partners at Management Consultants for the Arts (MCA) on potential operating models moving forward and we are happy to share some important updates about those discussions and plans for a staged reopening of the Center as soon as possible.
At the Virtual Town Hall, we talked about many of the economic and public health conditions impacting the HCA and plans to reopen. Industry experts predict that the post-pandemic arts industry will be even more volatile than usual, which is why we are committed to making sure the HCA is on sustainable fiscal footing moving forward in order to deliver the best possible service to and for the regional arts community. To that end, we will be launching a Request for Proposals (RFP) in the coming weeks to seek potential management partners for the HCA. A management partner would run all aspects of the operations of the HCA, including programming, working closely with the college and district to ensure that we are meeting academic and community needs. In the RFP process, we expect that we may receive proposals from private and/or non-profit entities in our region or beyond who have expertise in running similar venues.
We anticipate the RFP process will take about 60-90 days, and while it is underway we have hired MCA to conduct a search for a potential new General Manager for the HCA. This new position will serve as the liaison between a new management partner and our district and college and we hope to recruit potential candidates from all over the country. We are beginning the search process soon so that we are in a position to hit the ground running if/when we identify a viable management partner.
Finally, in a year of ups and downs, we received some good news when Governor Newsom suggested that all statewide COVID tiers and restrictions could be eliminated as early as mid-June if current public health trends continue. This is welcome news for our entire state and region, including those of us hoping to resume shows and performances as soon as possible. While we are still cautious in our optimism (the Governor’s announcement notes that everyone in the state must still follow public health guidance from the CDC and others), it no doubt opens the door to consider resuming some HCA activities sooner than expected. As such, we are beginning to tentatively plan for a staged reopening of the HCA that would allow us to host a limited number of events with nonprofit community partners as early as October 1, 2021, several months before we had expected that to be possible.
With our RFP process and General Manager search just beginning, we are pleased to announce that Kathleen Leavitt, our member services consultant, has agreed to temporarily expand her role on a contract basis and lead efforts to plan for the possibility of a “soft” reopening on or around October 1. Kathleen will begin these new duties on June 1 and shortly after will be in touch with nonprofit community partners to discuss next steps before scheduling limited events this Fall.
This has been an extraordinarily challenging year for everyone, including all of us eager to see the arts return to the Harris Center and other regional venues facing similar dynamics. We remain incredibly grateful for your commitment to HCA through it all, and look forward to sharing more updates with you in the weeks ahead.
Chancellor, Los Rios Community College District
President, Folsom Lake College