PALM SPRINGS – The historic Plaza Theatre in Downtown, a treasured gem of history, will serve as the backdrop for the Annual State of the City as the City Council lays out its plans for the future.
The State of the City Address is set for Sept. 25 at the Plaza Theatre, 128 S. Palm Canyon Drive, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. The event, presented by the Palm Springs City Council, has free seats available.
What started out as a small chamber affair has grown into one of the must-attend events of the season.
“It grew into a bigger event with Mayor Will Kleindienst, as did many things, like parades,” said former City Councilmember Michael McCulloch. “PowerPoint was a baby and it became more of show than a discussion of topics of interest to the businesses in the Chamber. … (Former Mayor) Ron Oden really blew it up bigtime. That was when I was on Council. More and more people, outside of just the Chamber members, started to attend. The Ramada was not large enough so it was moved to bigger venues. More and more people wanted to attend, but did not want to participate in the cost of presenting the event, so free attendance was added.”
Over the years, the State of the City became a major news story as the city would roll out new plans and ideas for the coming year. It wasn’t just about what was, but what would be. It has contained an element of surprise and intrigue.
The Palm Springs Chamber manages the State of the City event. The event has been held in a host of different locations over the years, including the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Hard Rock and the Convention Center. They tend to change it up year to year to generate excitement about what’s happening in the city and special projects, Amy Blaisdell, Communications Director for the city, told Uken Report.
This year the Plaza Theatre subcommittee, which is Mayor Robert Moon and Councilmember J.R. Roberts, suggested holding the event at the Plaza so that residents and the business community can have a chance to get inside and see it, Blaisdell said. The theatre has not been open since the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, — one of the longest running dance and musical revues in the United States — played its last-ever show on May 18, 2014. The show ran for 22 years.
“There is a lot of curiosity in the community about the state of the theatre, which needs significant restoration,” Blaisdell said. “It’s also an excellent way to generate excitement about the need to preserve the theatre, which is in a key location in the heart of downtown. In fact, the theatre has a lot of great history. When it first opened in 1936, the Plaza hosted the world premiere of the Greta Garbo film “Camille.”
Suffice it to say, Blaisdell added, “We have many people in Palm Springs who have fond memories of growing up in the city and seeing movies at the Plaza Theatre. As part of the State of the City program, the Mayor and Councilmember Roberts plan to update the community on the plans for the restoration project and how they can help the City restore it to its former glory.”
At its core, the State of the City is a fundraiser – and has always been —for the Chamber, said City Manager David Ready.
“The speech itself, as noted, is free and open to the public,” Ready told Uken Report. “One of the purposes of having it at the Plaza Theater, is to showcase the facility, for the ongoing restoration fundraising that will be needed to complete the project.”
The fundraising goal for the Plaza Theatre Restoration Project is $12 million, according to the city’s website. To date, there have been seven donations made totaling $52,670, according to the site.
On June 6, the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, a local non-profit whose mission is to educate and promote awareness regarding the importance of preserving the historic resources and architecture of
Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, presented a $50,000 donation to the City of Palm Springs in support of the historic Plaza Theatre Restoration Project.
- Amy Blaisdell: Facebook
- David H. Ready: City of Palm Springs
- Plaza Theatre: City of Palm Springs