Little Opera House: Feasibility Study for Performing Arts Center


In May 2017, the Little Opera House, a newly formed nonprofit 501(c)3 organization in the City of Alameda, Alameda County, California, enlisted AMS Planning & Research to conduct a feasibility study for a new performing arts/cultural center facility. The study was designed to examine existing community arts assets, test key community assumptions regarding the viability of a new facility and recommend strategies to promote the facility, if built, and the community, as an attractive destination for experiencing the arts and culture.

AMS conducted research, solicited input from the community, studied needs, and evaluated existing cultural resources. In addition, case studies of comparable facilities in similar communities were researched and documented, identifying examples of management, programs, and operations with potential application to the Alameda facility.

AMS evaluated the impact existing venues might have on the proposed cultural facility, including the likelihood of competition for audiences.

An online survey conducted of potential users of a new facility showed that there was sufficient interest in using the facility to make it feasible, with opera and dance organizations having the highest interest. The survey showed that a 400-600 seat venue, with a proscenium stage and high-tech sound, lighting, scenery equipment, storage and classroom would be optimal.

As a result of AMS’s work, a potential site and a potential partnership came to light to support establishing a new venue. Through interviews, it was discovered that the College of Alameda had revised its masterplan, which includes the building of a new performing arts facility that had an already designated, suitable site, and the possibility of bond financing available to the college for partial construction. The Little Opera House was organized as a nonprofit specifically for the purpose of establishing a performing arts facility and, in partnership with the College of Alameda, will coordinate fundraising and eventually become the operator of the facility, with maintenance support from the college. The facility will be operated as a rental facility for the community; regular renters of the facility could potentially become resident companies of the new performing arts center.

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