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Cerritos Performing Arts Theater Has Lost Over $110 Million Since 2004

December 16, 2022

By Brian Hews

Last week, Hews Media Group-Community News reported that Cerritos Management and Mayor Chuong Vo refused a valid public records request asking for Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (CCPA) individual show ticket sales and revenues.

One long-time municipal attorney called the request lawful and said that the records are disclosable.

There is a reason why management and the mayor do not want to disclose the ticket sales; they would show the CCPA, for the last 16 years, has lost millions.

 An HMG-CN examination of Cerritos’ audited financial statements found online show that the CCPA has lost a staggering $112 million since 2004, 16 straight years losing $7 million on average per year.

Source: Cerritos Loses Money Facebook.

And the operation of the theater lands solely on City Management and the majority City Council.  Between 2004 and 2014, the theater never reached more than $6.250 million in ticket sales; from 2004-2009, total expenses averaged $14 million, and the theater lost a staggering $9 million per year.

But it was the redevelopment era, and, as the late former mayor of Norwalk Luigi Vernola used to say, “Cerritos was the poster child for redevelopment abuse.”

 From 2010-2014, sales were tanking, averaging $4.5 million, and the theater was hemorrhaging millions yearly. The city, after the dissolution of redevelopment in 2012, began cutting expenses, but with the lower sales, losses still hit $5 million per year.

 But the city was being dominated by Republicans Carol Chen, the late Jim Edwards, and current Mayor pro tem Bruce Barrows, who ignored the complaints, bankrolled the losses and refused to be transparent concerning theater operations.

 Some Republicans complained; business owners and former Mayors George Ray and current Councilman Naresh Solanki constantly complained about the losses, but the city kept the theater open while keeping the operating revenue and losses buried behind City Hall doors. 

From 2015-2017 expenses were $9 million, jumping to $10 million, for a total of $48 million. But ticket sales were only $23 million, the theater losing $30 million in six years.

2014-2020 Cerritos Center and expenses showing huge losses.

 Now, the city is again dominated by Republicans, run by Bruce Barrows with his allies Mayor Chuong Vo and Councilmember Lynda Johnson, who are ignoring the losses.

 They recently approved an addition to the losses, with Vo, Barrows and Johnson approving an Executive Director position saddling the CCPA with an additional estimated $150,000 in annual salary and benefits.

 And, as reported last week, in November of this year, HMG-CN requested year-to-date per-show ticket sales and revenues generated at the theater, but the city sent documents with ticket sales and dollar amount redacted; the only item not redacted was the name of the show.

The information is obviously public record, but the City Attorney redacted the information.

When asked for individual show ticket sales for the nearby La Mirada Theater for 2022, the city sent the information unredacted the next day.

Several emails into City Manager Art Gallucci and Cerritos Mayor Chuong Vo asking for comment about the non-disclosure went unanswered.