Newport council may raise curtains for Balboa Village Theatre

The Newport Beach City Council meeting Tuesday night will be a make-or-break moment for the Balboa Village Theatre, according to the theater's foundation board.

The Balboa Performing Arts Theater Foundation is asking the city to fund $2 million to renovate the existing building, at 707 E. Balboa Blvd. The foundation would set aside another $2 million for tenant improvements, such as lighting and other operational expenses, according to the staff report.

If the council approves the contract, the city will earn 2.5% of all ticket revenues from the theater and will enter into a 50-year lease with the foundation, the report states.

Before it closed in 1992, the theater was once the place in Balboa Village where people visited to see art films, classic revivals and even "The Rocky Horror Picture Show."

In the early years, from 1928 to 1939, the theater hosted vaudeville and other small, live productions.

But by the early 1990s, the theater fell on hard times and couldn't make enough to cover increasing rent costs, eventually forcing it to close.

This left a distinct cultural void in Newport Beach, said councilmember Mike Henn.

"All the cities around us are very heavily involved in arts and culture and I think Newport needs to participate much more meaningfully," he said. "In my mind this is an absolutely critical project that needs to move forward."

Members of the foundation will present their proposal to the council during its study session at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The council will vote on the proposal during the regular meeting later that evening.

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