Outdoor Forest Theater

City-owned Forest Theater was under management of Sunset Cultural Center Inc. starting in 2017 with a 30-year lease, but Sunset Center backed out early from the 700-plus-seat venue.

The city of Carmel and Pacific Repertory Theatre are set to sign a lease agreement for the management of the historic city-owned Forest Theater if City Council approves at a meeting tomorrow, March 1.

In early 2021, Carmel issued a request for proposals for the theater, and two proposals came back: one from PacRep and one from Steve Retsky, the longtime master electrician at Monterey Peninsula College Theatre. A city evaluation panel determined that PacRep’s offer fit their needs better and entered into negotiations; a draft lease is now part of City Council's open-session agenda.

The first term will be five years and four months, ending on June 30, 2027 (plus another five years for optional renewal). PacRep will provide annual written and verbal reports, detailing events, revenue, expenses, outreach efforts, upgrades and facility repairs, per the draft lease.

PacRep will pay $1 per year to the city for rent, and will pay $15,000 for one-time, initial upgrades, per the draft lease. Carmel will allocate $60,000 for one-time, initial upgrades from its public works budget. Those one-time funds will be used for several purchases and repairs including lighting truss/towers, stage rigging, a prefabricated box office, picnic tables, and stage floor and subfloor repairs. 

While the prior Forest Theater lease agreement with Sunset Cultural Center included a city subsidy, there will be no subsidy with PacRep. 

The Forest Theater Guild will be recognized as an “historic user” and will be given equitable scheduling precedence. The long-time local theater company's place in the priority list became a sticking point when the Forest Theater was under Sunset Center management, and created challenges for the Guild

The agreement will be presented in open session on Tuesday, March 1. The City Council meeting will be a hybrid format, and members of the public can attend in person or the meeting can be streamed online.

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