Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeTheGoodStuffThe Good Stuff by Shelley Bennett

The Good Stuff by Shelley Bennett

by Shelley Bennett

Dear Members of the Susanville City Council,

You have an important decision to make regarding the ARPA funds distribution and I know you will hear opinions from many people. I would like to dedicate this week’s column to adding mine.

I am not able to attend the meeting on Wednesday as I have two other meetings to run that evening. (the NCCA golf tournament isn’t going to plan itself!)

I grew up in Lassen County and have been performing on makeshift stages for about 50 years. Starting at McKinley school as a tiny ballerina waiting in the dusty wings, maneuvering myself around the desks and old AV equipment stored backstage, as I prepared to shine onstage.

There were memorable performances on the pulpit of the Methodist Church, the concrete floor of the basement at the Hotel Mt. Lassen, and the activity centers of various old folks homes. In every instance, we made do with what we had. Lugging in sound equipment, changing costumes in a cramped bathroom stall, and carefully executing our steps over carpeted surfaces.

I was also a member of many audiences over the years. Watching Mame in the cramped, humid Little Theatre at LHS. Craning my neck around a tall man sitting in front of me to see The Sound of Music in the Student Center. Trying to get comfortable in the Lassen College bleachers during a concert by the Greg Kihn Band. (Remember their hit “The Breakup Song”?)

There was always talk about building a grand Performing Arts center. Vague plans. Flighty fundraisers. But they were just rumors.

Again, with every performance the group in charge made do with what they had. They are a creative and resilient bunch! Despite the challenges, the arts have survived, and in many cases, thrived in Lassen County.

Currently there are several dance studios, Best of Broadway, the Susanville Symphony, bands, choirs, and theatre groups from the high school and elementary schools. church choirs, hand bell ringers, local bands and singers, and other fundraising events, like Dancing for a Brand New Me that will pack the calendar.

We are not just a “Cowboy” town wanting to be an “Ashland, OR” as one Facebook naysayer recently posted, we are actually both. We have proved that culture is alive and well in Susanville. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a place to showcase it?

Last Friday, SBAC and Forgery gave us a little taste of this possibility and it was incredible.

Forgery is always a fun band to listen to and to hear them in a place with awesome acoustics, comfortable seating, and the grandeur of the Sierra Theatre was so cool! At times, I had to remind myself that I was actually at home, not hours away at another concert venue.

It was an exciting night, you could feel it in the air. There are so many opportunities for local groups to utilize this space and to also bring in entertainers from other places.

SPAC has a sound business plan in place. As early as January 2025 (and maybe even sooner), we could be filling the auditorium with citizens of all ages ready for a concert, comedian, play, or dance performance.

There are other worthy causes proposed as well. As a mom of three, I know the Little League field needs bathrooms. Many years ago, my toddler would rather walk home than set foot in a Porta Potty. Here’s a thought: maybe each year the SBAC could host a fundraiser dedicated to these other proposals.

These volunteers have planned for the future with programs to benefit kindergartners to senior citizens. They know how to market, as proven by their recent media push, and they represent all areas of visual and performing arts and beyond. I believe in them.
I hope you do too.

You have an opportunity here to not just put Susanville on the map, but to affect generations of Lassen County for years to come. Don’t let this potential Performing Arts center go the way of the other rumors, make it a reality and fund their proposal.

Sincerely yours,
Shelley Bennett


Remember when news was ‘newsy’? When you read about weddings, family events and engagement announcements in the newspaper? If you have something that might be newsworthy, please submit it to [email protected] and I’ll do my best to include it here in “The Good Stuff.”

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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