Board actions questioned

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Auditorium fee is fixed regardless of renter

The LAPS Board ultimately decides which community organizations can rent the Duane W. Smith Auditorium (DWSA) and what these organizations can perform. This is reasonable.
The board should not, for example, allow performances that go against the LAPS policy on temporary/long-term use of school facilities (1330-3270), which states that school facilities such as the theater are for the educational benefit of the people of Los Alamos and that “district buildings and facilities should be available, subject to reasonable conditions, to ... organizations for activities that foster the educational, cultural .... or social development of the community.
In direct opposition to its policy, a recently added clause in the DWSA rental contract allows LAPS to consider “market saturation.”
This clause is meant to protect the theater, not the theater renter. Theaters that rely on ticket sales protect themselves from market saturation and might not book similar performances.
This clause is inappropriate in the DWSA contract.
First, DWSA has no financial risk — the rental fee to DWSA is fixed regardless of renter or production.
Second, LAPS has no business considering profit-based protections for outside businesses­­ ­–– LAPS’ business is education.
In the closed executive meeting, the board (one of the five board members performed in DALA’s 2010 “Nutcracker”) granted Dance Arts Los Alamos’ request to deny New Mexico Dance Theater and Performance Company’s contract to perform a ballet in the public domain, “The Nutcracker,” scheduled before Thanksgiving.
The board did so because DALA asserted (without offering any supporting evidence) that NMDT-PC performances would create market saturation for DALA and hurt DALA’s ticket sales.
The board chose to protect DALA. The DWSA needs no protection from NMDT-PC.
The board has discriminated on criteria outside its purview, and showed favoritism toward DALA. The board granted DALA’s request in complete opposition to LAPS temporary/long-term use of school facilities policy guiding theater rental.
By setting this precedent, if the Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet or the New York City Ballet requested use of the DWSA to perform “The Nutcracker” during the holiday season, DALA could again cry “market saturation” and, through the LAPS board, deny these rental requests, too.
The board’s decision has, regrettably, denied the ballet students of NMDT-PC the opportunity to perform this traditional ballet in 2011. The board’s decision is particularly unfair to NMDT-PC’s LAPS graduating seniors, their families, and friends.
This is not the first time LAPS has acted to protect DALA. In 2008, when NMDT-PC requested performance dates that were available in the first week of December, DALA objected. DALA claimed it was a “historical user” and should be given the dates.
In addition, DALA requested the December dates be guaranteed for as long as DALA wanted them. LAPS agreed, not because NMDT-PC was going against the LAPS policy on temporary/long-term use of school facilities, but to protect DALA’s bottom line.
NMDT-PC was relegated to performing holiday classics before Thanksgiving. Now NMDT-PC can’t perform “The Nutcracker” without LAPS’ permission, either.

Clay Dillingham is a board member of