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Money Raised for 8 Summer Pier Concerts  
By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

March 26, 2010 -- A $50,000 municipal contribution approved by the City Council on Tuesday was enough to get the Twilight Dance Series over the fundraising hump so the concerts can take place this summer. As of Thursday, $132,794 had been raised, allowing for eight events.

The Pier Restoration Corporation (PRC) announced earlier this month that it needed to overcome a $92,000 deficit just to hold seven concerts. The financial problem was due to sponsorship losses and money having been used for the pier’s centennial celebration.

The City Council on March 9 put up $35,000 toward the series, hoping it would inspire others to give money. The PRC received donations from Pacific Park, Naked Juice and the Santa Monica Pier Lessees Association. Money also came from the public, ranging from $5 to an anonymous $5,000 contribution.

“It’s a truly humbling experience, particularly the response from the community,” PRC Executive Director Ben Franz-Knight told the PRC Board of Directors at its meeting on Wednesday.

The PRC will continue seeking sponsorships and other forms of funding so it can hold the traditional 10 concerts. The Board voted to create an ad-hoc committee to explore other methods to fund the concert series and ways to improve the organization of the event.

The City Council was able to come up with the funding on Tuesday by increasing the fees to ride the carousel. The charges will go up from $1 to $2 for those over 14 and from 50 cents to $1 for those ages 3 to 14. Also, the ages for free rides will go down from 6 and under to 3 and under.

These changes are expected to generate $150,000 for the pier. Dedicating a portion of that money for the concert series was a one-time action. The remainder of the money will be used to make the carousel self-sustainable. It currently operates on a deficit, with the City’s General Fund money making up the difference.

“We are in different times than we’ve been in the past,” Council member Gleam Davis said. “And we cannot afford to have the General Fund subsidize some of these wonderful amenities that we have in the City. They need to become self-sustaining.”

She and other council members said raising the cost of the carousel is just one of many measures the council will need to take as it looks to cut its budget.

The City must slice at least $6.9 million for the 2010-11 budget to overcome a projected shortfall. See story City Faces Increasing Budget Shortfall (Feb. 2, 2010.)

“It’s not just the carousel,” Davis said. ”We’re going to be making these hard decisions about a lot of other things going forward, and people need to be prepared for them.”

Council members Terry O’Day and Bobby Shriver voted against the fare changes. O’Day said there could be other ways to generate revenue, and that raising the cost of carousel rides would put a burden on Santa Monica’s poor. He also disagreed with the notion that the carousel should be self-sustainable.

“Not every amenity needs to balance out in the (pier),” O’Day said. “And it’s important to provide a suite of amenities. And the carousel itself is a very important one among that suite of amenities on the pier.”

The council will look at the carousel fares again next year.


“Not every amenity needs to balance out in the pier),” “And it’s important to provide a suite of amenities. And the carousel itself is a very important one among that suite of amenities on the pier.”
  Terry O’Day


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