The Auditorio Improvement Project

The Auditorio Improvement Project

By Harriet Hart



auditorioThe Auditorio de la Ribera is like an old friend – she’s always been there for us when we need her, so we may have started to take her for granted. Friendships need work. The Auditorio does, too. She is now 35 years old and although she still functions, her innards are worn and outdated.

In 1995, our committee raised $180,000 pesos from the community and repaired the stage floor, replaced the carpeting and purchased a new sound system.

Since then the Department of Culture has from time to time funded maintenance upgrades (repairing the roof, refinishing bathrooms, etc) and music organizations like Viva la Musica and Mas Musica have spearheaded individual projects such as installing hand rails and more comfortable seating, but no major improvements have been undertaken. Performers began to complain about the acoustics, lack of air conditioning and say that they ceased to enjoy using the facility.

Viva La Musica was listening. In 2010, it commissioned a study by retired architect Tom Weeks, a theatre renovation specialist who prepared a 32-page report titled Redevelopment and Upgrade Plan for the Renovation of the Auditorio de la Ribera. The report recommended several necessary improvements which include:

Replacing the obsolete and hazardous electrical wiring/Improving the acoustics of the stage and hall/Installing new air conditioning/

Upgrading the stage lighting/Installing a new sound system

All these improvements come with a hefty price tag, an estimated $4,750,000 pesos or $400,000 USD. Five local music associations: Viva la Musica, Mas Musica, Los Cantantes del Lago, CREM and the Scotiabank Northern Lights Festival have formed a non-profit organization called Pro Auditorio del Lago de Chapala A.C. which is officially recognized by the Chapala Municipal Council to raise funds.

During the fall of 2010, Aurora Michel of Banco Actinver was instrumental in presenting the report to key political decision makers. All were impressed by the quality of the report and the importance of the project and said they support the upgrading of the auditorium. A funding plan has been developed to solicit 2/3 from the state and federal governments and 1/3 from the community. Our challenge as a community is to raise $1,500,000 pesos in the next six months.

At a time of economic hardship, this presents an enormous but not impossible challenge. After all, so many of us use the place. In 2010 alone, 82 events were held in the Auditorio, including 30 concerts, 22 graduation ceremonies, 20 dance performances and a number of government workshops. In total, 21,000 people participated.

Clearly the Auditorio is an important facility at lakeside. Pro Auditorio del Lago de Chapala is developing a number of strategies to solicit funds from the community. Events will be held, corporations will be approached and individual donations will be solicited. But why wait to be asked? Let an old friend know you still care.

Go to Banco Actinver (Lloyd’s) and make a donation to the Pro Auditorio account (no. 6679559) or contact John Keeling at keelingmex@gmail, telephone 376 766 1801. Tax receipts are available.

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