Published January 15, 2019
Volume 3, Number 1

The Bankhead Goes Green

By Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer
Since it opened in 2007, the Bankhead Theater in Livermore has been a community-supported, independent arts treasure. The intimate 500-seat venue has brought world-class artists and shows to the Tri-Valley, nurtured resident companies and community performing arts groups, provided arts education and cultural experiences for all ages, and offered opportunities for visual artists to create and display their work. In 2019 the theater will continue supporting the community while also upgrading its building in a major project to make it greener.

Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center (LVPAC), the nonprofit that operates the Bankhead Theater, reached a funding milestone in 2018 and developed a new project called Green the Bankhead. The project involves major improvements to the theater that will make it safer, more energy efficient, and less costly to operate. Most of the theater’s stage lighting has been switched to bulbs that use light-emitting diodes (LED), for example. LEDs produce light approximately 90% more efficiently than older incandescent light bulbs.

LVPAC also plans to add solar panels to the theater, install new carpet made of environmentally friendly material, and replace existing bathroom fixtures with water-saving low-flow fixtures. By the end of 2019, LVPAC’s goal is for the improved theater to qualify for LEED certification, a globally-recognized rating of a commercial building’s sustainability, as well as WELL certification, which assesses measures taken to ensure the health and well-being of patrons and staff.

“It's unusual to have a theater that is independent and nonprofit, in the sense that it is not run by a city, college, or university and is not a commercial or for-profit venue,” says Roberta Emerson, LVPAC Marketing Manager. Unlike many other theaters, the Bankhead was built brick by brick by dedicated members of the community, notes Emerson. That “gives us some freedoms and opportunities that those others might not have, but also means we must rely on the generous support of our community–donors and foundations–as ticket sales cover only half of the cost of producing the shows and events.”

Thanks to community support, the Bankhead Theater continued to play a key role as an arts and cultural resource during the fiscal year of 2017 to 2018. Among other activities, the theater welcomed 57,485 patrons, hosted 268 live music and performing arts events, sold out a record-breaking 27 shows, underwrote event tickets for 4,056 students, subsidized 140 performances by resident companies, and provided educational programs that served more than 30,000 students.

“One example of our support for young talent and the opportunity to build artistic/musical skills is the East Bay Jazz High School All Stars program,” says Emerson. The program offers students a priceless opportunity for real world performance experience in both a big band format and smaller jazz combo.

“Located where we are at the home of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, we understand the importance of the intersection between art, music, science, and technology,” says Emerson. “There is a long history of connection between math and music, and research has explored connections between artistry, creativity, and high tech. Art and music have widespread appeal, and our patrons, donors and volunteers, are connected across a range of backgrounds.”

In July 2018, Diablo Magazine named the Bankhead Theatre the Best Performing Arts Venue in its 2018 Best of the East Bay issue. Bay Area Parent magazine also named the theater a Gold Winner as an East Bay Hidden Gem for 2017.  

For more information about the Bankhead Theater or Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center, please visit https://lvpac.org or see the theater’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/lvpac.