More than $2.5 million in the state’s 2021-22 spending plan has been set aside to repair and upgrade the historic California Theatre in downtown San Bernardino.
The city-owned, 1,700-seat venue is home to the San Bernardino Symphony and serves as a performance hub for musicals, plays and touring companies.
State monies will go toward repairing the facility’s Wurlitzer organ, a historic piece that currently is not functional, completing accessibility upgrades and replacing seats and carpeting. Such a revitalization effort is expected to bring elevated performance opportunities to the community and region.
The California Theatre is due to receive $2.5 million in upgrades thanks to state funding announced July 7, 2021. The city-owned theater at 562 W. Fourth St., San Bernardino, was built in 1928 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. (File photo by Frank Perez, Contributing Photographer)
“The California Theatre is an integral and iconic part of historic downtown San Bernardino,” City Manager Rob Field said in an email Wednesday, July 7. “Its revitalization will give a tremendous boost to ongoing efforts to bring vitality to the City’s downtown core, as it will bring residents and visitors together in a beautiful and inviting setting, featuring one of the last functional Wurlitzer organs in the country.
“We look forward to seeing – and hearing – the variety of performances that are sure to flow through the theatre in the coming years.”
Anne Viricel, the symphony’s longtime executive director, said Wednesday the planned repairs are “incredibly needed and appreciated.”
“The city has a great deal of talented people, not only through our orchestra that’s been pleased to perform (at the theater) for many decades,” she said, “but also students at the K-12s that don’t have access to performing arts venues. To go in and look around and hear music and be in that place, a beautiful place, is something that builds both cultural literacy and pride of place, which is something our community greatly needs.
“We’re very excited about the upgrades,” Viricel added, “and we know that both technically and aesthetically, they will be great improvements and draw folks from all over the region, not just the Inland Empire.”
After a year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the San Bernardino Symphony kicked off its hybrid 92nd season in February.
Viricel said the orchestra plans to resume in-person performances in October.
The California Theatre, at 562 W. Fourth St., was built in 1928 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.