PCA founder circulating petition to reconsider arts center lease

Julie Reichle

801 Magnolia Avenue

Piedmont Center for the Arts founder Nancy Lehrkind is circulating a petition on change.org calling for the Recreation Department to run the city-owned arts center building at 801 Magnolia Ave.

A proposed seven-year, $1-a-year lease agreement between PCA and the city has come under scrutiny recently as the community debates whether the arrangement best serves the community’s needs. PCA’s lease with the city expires June 3, 2021, and the city council is expected to take up a second reading of the proposal soon. It gave initial approval to the deal in November 2020.

The petition calls for a new agreement that allows PCA and the city to share the space, akin to arrangements in other cities.

The petition reads:

YES. We want to continue having a Piedmont Center For The Arts, but NOT under a 10 year lease which restricts access by other citizens to our public building.  We can have it both ways as the cities of Pleasanton & Clayton already do. Simply put, they share!  Many of you may have attended summer theatre shows in Clayton or art exhibits or performances at the City of Pleasanton’s Firehouse building, both situations in which a City building is shared among multiple uses. We can do that too!

Please support the solution of having the Recreation Department run the 801 Magnolia West Wing with 1600 hours per year reserved for the EXCLUSIVE and FREE USE by the nonprofit Piedmont Center For The Arts, Inc.  This way of having the City subsidize and support the arts in our community can totally co-exist with other non-arts usages as it does in other cities. This way, we can all use the Piedmont Center building just as we can the Veteran’s Hall but the PCA will continue wonderful artistic events there for the whole town to enjoy.

The City Council will take up this issue soon.  At that time they need to turn down the proposed, restrictive lease being put forth by the PCA Board and refer the issue to the Recreation Committee for further public input and consideration of alternative ideas for the future use of 801 Magnolia.

Read the full petition HERE. Supporters can add their names to the petition on Change.org HERE.

3 thoughts on “PCA founder circulating petition to reconsider arts center lease

  1. There would be no Piedmont Center for the Arts (“PCA”) without Nancy and Tom Lehrkind’s vision and commitment; Nancy’s suggestion should not be taken lightly. Both supporters and opponents of the proposed seven year lease to the current PCA Board share a common desire of continued art and performances at 801 Magnolia. However, those troubled by the proposed lease understand the lease gives the farm away to the Board. Since Nancy left PCA, the Board has limited other groups wishing to use 801, the calendar has become focused predominately on chamber music with occasional Jazz and yet with over $406,000 in assets (Guidestar.org) PCA claims to have to voluntarily clean the toilets. Something isn’t right here as the affordable art and culture center envisioned by the Lehrkind’s has morphed into a venue where the PCA Board can restrict who has access to the venue and can charge as they please. Before City Council schedules a 2nd reading, there should be a Town Hall and survey as was recently done with the Reach Codes and PCA should release both its minutes and current financials.

  2. If it means 801 Magnolia can be used by more people, with more inclusiveness and efficiency in using this great space, and if rents are kept low for artistic groups and non-profits, then I will gladly sign the petition.

  3. “PCA founder” is an understatement. Many new to town may not know how Nancy and Tom spearheaded the development of the 801 building into a beautiful community space. Her petition captures the initial promise by PCA to make 801 a space for the development and expression of the arts by community members. By all means sign the petition but also let City Council know they need to hold public hearings on the future of 801. It’s been a busy year for Council – Covid, pool, new hires – and public process on the new lease seems to have slipped through the cracks. All council members can be reached at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.giv.

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