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PAC3 hits reset button, TSC posts RFP on lease

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PAC3 hits reset button; TSC posts RFP on lease

By Bob Ward
Sopris Sun Correspondent
After two and a half years, the Third Street Center and the operators of the PAC3 performance space are casting about for new ways of doing business.
On page 9 of this issue of The Sopris Sun, readers will see a request for proposals from potential future tenants of the PAC3 space at the Third Street Center in Carbondale. The Center is looking for a new plan to use the room and fill it with people more often. In the words of current tenant Josh Behrman of Mountain Groove Productions, “unfortunately, it’s underutilized.”
PAC3 stands for Performing Arts Center at Third Street, and though most people use the term to describe the venue, it also refers to Behrman’s nonprofit organization that operates the space and rents it from the Third Street Center. Behrman converted the old Carbondale Elementary School gymnasium into today’s performance space, but is struggling to make the lease payments. 
A glance at the PAC3 calendar for this month illustrates the problem: Six October dates are booked with concerts, most of them on Friday and Saturday nights, but most of the month is empty. Behrman has several private parties, a martial arts event and four performances by Jayne Gottlieb Productions booked in October and November, but the space will be dark most of the time.
“It is hard,” he said. “We’ve had Leon Russell, Steve Earle, David Grisman, world-class artists, but it’s tough to fill the room. We’ve been fortunate with some, but we’ve definitely had challenges with artists you wouldn’t expect we’d have challenges with.”
The key to the venue’s eventual success, Behrman, said, will be to fill out the schedule with a diversified menu of events. When asked what he envisions for PAC3, Behrman said “I don’t see it being much different than it is right now, other than it being utilized to its full potential.”
That means wedding receptions, parties, luncheons, fundraisers, indoor sporting events, music and dance performances and more, and those bookings will have to come from local individuals and organizations in addition to Behrman himself.
Through the end of 2013, Behrman has a month-to-month lease and he promises, “All of the shows on sale now through Jan. 1 are still happening.” Beyond Jan. 1, he hopes to have an answer soon.
 Jody Ensign, Third Street Center director, said she hopes and expects Behrman to submit a proposal for next year.
“We’re not necessarily looking for a new tenant,” she said. “We are looking at more potential for the full range of uses of the venue. Now it’s only used sporadically.”
Ensign believes in PAC3 as a performance venue, but she thinks it could be more than that.
“I think the performance space is a great value for the community and the midvalley, but only operating the performance space at night really limits its capability,” she said. “What other ideas are out there that we can come up with?”
Both Ensign and Behrman stated that the ongoing changes do not signal the end of PAC3, but they do signal the beginning of an effort to make the space economically sustainable. And sustainability may hinge on community support.
“I had a vision for PAC3 and I thought Carbondale was ready,” Behrman said. “Don’t take for granted what’s in your community. Support it.”

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