Culture Wars

Carrie Glenn, Forest Theater Guild’s president, says so far they are on track to do one show, Annie, in 2020. The Guild wants to do two.

There’s no business like show business, unless you don’t want to be in the business, that is what the city of Carmel made clear when it handed over management duties of the two theaters it owns, Sunset Center and the Forest Theater, to Sunset Cultural Center, Inc., a nonprofit. Now the city finds itself back in, playing the role of mediator between Sunset and the performance groups that have used the city’s theaters for decades.

When the city put Sunset in charge, it was with the direction to give historic groups priority. But for the last two years the groups that include Forest Theater Guild, Monterey County Symphony Association, Carmel Bach Festival and Pacific Repertory Theatre have had difficulty getting the dates they need, in some cases, with not enough time to market upcoming seasons. PacRep’s founder and executive director, Stephen Moorer, blames putting a competing organization in charge of the calendar.

“Now we’ve got a landlord who is in competition with their tenants. That’s the problem,” Moorer says.

Christine Sandin, Sunset’s executive director, disagrees and contends the groups have priority booking status. “Nothing has lost a date to Sunset Presents, ever,” she says. Sunset has asked groups to be flexible to accommodate high-income private events, for example during Car Week, but Sandin says they would not force groups to lose dates.

Guild representatives went to the Carmel City Council in December to express frustration over a contract offer that gave them no dates to produce live theater in 2020. Since then, Sunset offered the Guild six weeks to produce one show, but Carrie Glenn, Guild board president, says they rejected the offer. They want a full season for two shows, April to July.

Managing the Forest Theater has been more challenging than anticipated, Sandin says. The city charged Sunset with running the theater more like a business as well as bringing in more diverse offerings, she says.

In January, Lee Rosen, president of the Symphony’s board, went to City Council asking the city to intervene on behalf of the arts groups, citing the “disconnect” between their needs and Sunset management. Afterward, Mayor Dave Potter invited arts group representatives to lunch, and a meeting with Sandin is being planned. The city attorney is reviewing the theater contract. “[It was] a little alarming to hear historic users are not getting booking opportunities,” Potter says.

Rosen says, “We’re pleased the mayor and the city administrator are taking our concerns very seriously.”

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(16) comments

Sylvie Vray

First I would like to thank Pam Marino for her article and mayor Dave Potter for his involvement. Finally the art community, their long time supporters and the stage hands workers are being heard.

As a freelance light designer as well as a stage hand member of IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees) it has been sad for me to see a wonderful well maintain theater slowly deteriorating.

Having spent most of my life inside of theaters, I can say that safety, maintenance and professional workers are of the upmost importance.

I support all the local and non local artists who year after year have brought their art to entertain and bring joy to the Sunset Center audience.

Morgan Miller

I stand with the Forest Theatre Guild, the Monterey Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, and other Historic Presenting Partners!!

I support fair labor practices, job security, workplace safety, and the right to be organized!!


Jeremiah Riley

Well it appears if you are showing support for the HPP's and others in opposition to the SCC your comments get deleted.

Let's stay within the discussion guidelines for a moment

BE TRUTHFUL: Every claim out there can be substantiated by written documentation. The task force put together by Mayor Potter to investigate the claims and lease violations was a great step in the RIGHT direction. In fact the HPP's were threatened by Sue McCloud and Ken White that if they spoke up at the city council meeting the task force would be disbanded.

Thereby ipso facto denying them 1st Amendment rights to voice their concerns to the city council. This is democracy?

Perhaps the Weekly isn't a voice for the HPP's. They do take advertising dollars and the SCC is a client of the Weekly. OSHA, the NLRB, and others have suits pending out there. The OSHA fine was levied, the ruling on an NLRB suit is pending, How can SCC be squeaky clean if all this stuff is happening?

ShARE WITH US: There is "firsthand eyewitness accounts" that could fill an edition. Please don't let this story die. Please give a voice to the cultural community the Sunset Center was built for.


#Sunsetforthe people






Dee Emex

We support The Forest Theater Guild, We support the Historic Presenting Partners, and we support Safe working conditions.

Doug Mueller

Years of promises from SCC inc. have gone unfulfilled.

Both the forest theater and sunset center were successfully run, city properties, for decades.

Carmel loses transparency and accountability with this agreement- which was signed illegally.

Fingers crossed city can step up and lead like in the same responsible fashion that provided these cultural gifts to us in the first place.

Dee Emex

We stand with the Forest theater Guild! We support The Historic Presenting Partners! We support safety!

Patrick Fitzsimmons

We stand with Forest Theater Guild, Monterey Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival and the other Historic Presenting Partners!

Patrick Fitzsimmons

I stand with the Monterey Symphony!

Patrick Fitzsimmons

I stand with the Carmel Bach Festival!

Patrick Fitzsimmons

I stand with the Forest Theater Guild!

PJ Diaz

We Stand with Carmel Bach Festival!

PJ Diaz

We Stand with the Forest Theater Guild!

We support Monterey Symphony!

We support the Historic Presenting Partners!

Eileen Flynn

“[It was] a little alarming to hear historic users are not getting booking opportunities,” Potter says.

Not only are historic users being shunned but, the historic workers, the union stagehands of IATSE Local 611, have been essentially barred from working there with the exception of the historic users who insist on using us- Monterey Symphony, Carmel Bach Festival, Smuin Ballet, etc.

Sara Rubin Staff
Sara Rubin

Please keep the discussion civil. While disagreement and criticism are perfectly fine, ad hominem attacks and comments that include libelous claims will be deleted. Please familiarize yourselves with the Weekly's comment guidelines on our terms of use page:

-Sara Rubin, Editor

Comment deleted.
Comment deleted.
Kellie Quinn-Hoffmeister

What is the plan? Why are the very people and presenters being ignored? Perhaps the City has bought into the Sandin/Fletcher campaign just as Christine quoted above that the "City" wants to get FT profitable? Perhaps the comment from SM in 2003 about getting the center "out of the red" is embarrassing. How about this thought. Get your priorities straight... the City and the albatross (Sue McCloud said this) called the Sunset Center is not the problem. It's managmenent. Why on earth would you put a comedy show - 1 person, into Studio 105 and exclude the MSO rental? Priorities need major adjustment. The City just needs to enforce the lease. SCC has violated Federal, State and Local laws, been fined and has pending lawsuits. All a violation of the lease. Just hold people accountable and get people in there that care about the others in the community. Actions speak louder than "press statements".








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