Opposition building against dramatic theater rental fees at local libraries

Katie Crowther

Opposition building against dramatic theater rental fees at local libraries

CREATED Jul. 18, 2012

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV ) -- Opposition is building against dramatic rental fee hikes, implemented by the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.
Critics say the library district is jeopardizing community theater by making the use of library auditoriums more expensive.

"Somebody had the foresight to build these beautiful theaters in our public libraries, and now the library board has priced us out of the opportunity to actually use them for performances," says concerned parent, Melanie Walker. "Shouldn't tax payers have a say?"

The library district says it was forced to raise fees to rent its theater space for recitals and productions. The cost went from $10, to $170 per hour. In addition, the price of a technician to run sound and lighting equipment, went from $12 to $40 per hour.

"We will keep coming to the meetings, and we will keep asking them to review these rates," says Marci Riedy, who has collected nearly 5,500 signatures on a petition, asking for a lower rate hike. "This is about the community, and a beneficial service that is being unfairly eliminated.

Dance and theater groups, as well as other community organizations, say they can't afford the new library rental costs. And with few other venues to turn to, they say it's putting a stop to their public performances.

"It's such a shame," Walker says. "We're talking about local, community theater, and enriching our community with performing arts."

Jeanne Goodrich, the executive director of the library district, says the rental rate hike was necessary to balance the budget in these tough times. She says it's not an attack on theater groups. She says library auditorium rental is a very small part of total revenue, and it became too costly, to subsidize theater space for community organizations.

Goodrich also pointed out that the library district had to make significant cuts to other areas, by reducing library business hours and staff.

Clark County commissioners have already promised to take a closer look into the library rate hikes.