There’s been no shortage of woeful tales about the fate of performance venues during the COVID-19 pandemic. “First to close, last to reopen” has been a common refrain heard during gatherings of arts advocates, but for the historic Campbell Heritage Theatre that may prove more true than most.
The Campbell City Council on Tuesday night is considering a series of mid-year budget adjustments in response to the pandemic — a smart and necessary step — that will likely result in the severe reduction in the budget of the 800-seat theater, which is run by the city’s recreation department.
That wouldn’t mean anything drastic like wrapping barbed wire around the building, which was designed by William Weeks and began life as Campbell Union High School’s auditorium in 1938. But the cuts would curtail — for at least the rest of this year — the ability to book and provide marketing for the variety of concerts and other programming that have been the theater’s big draws since it reopened in 2004.
It’ll still be a while before venues like the Heritage Theatre can welcome back audiences in any reasonable capacity because of COVID-19 restrictions. But Campbell should do everything it can to make sure the theater can make a comeback when it’s safe to do so. We don’t have a lot of mid-size gems like that one.
LITTLE ITALY MUSEUM COMING TOGETHER: The St. John Street house that will one day soon become the Little Italy Museum and Cultural Center literally had its profile raised this week, as a crew from Don Perez House Movers used jacks to lift the house about 8 inches so work can begin on the foundation.
But that’s not the only foundation work that’s taking place. A fundraising campaign has been launched to help complete the restoration, and families are being invited to become sponsors of the renovation of Beltramo Dining Room — named for the family that lived for decades in the 1910 home. The DiNapoli and Mulcahy families have pledged to match donations up to $10,000.
When completed, the dining room will be next to a demonstration kitchen and will be filled with historic photos and video of Santa Clara Valley immigrant farmers harvesting, preserving and shipping crops from the Valley of Heart’s Delight. An interactive feature is also planned that will allow visitors to research the contributions of their own families to the valley’s agricultural legacy. Go to www.littleitalysj.com to donate or get more information.
OUTDOOR VOICES: A sharp eye for birds paid off for Sunnyvale resident and former Harker School student Vayun Tawari, who was the youth winner of the National Audubon Society’s 2020 Photography Awards. Some of Tawari’s fantastic photos will be featured during a Silicon Valley Reads online panel discussion on March 18 featuring Andrea Mackenzie, general manager of the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, and David Yarnold, president of the National Audubon Society and former executive editor of the Mercury News.
I’ll be moderating the 3 p.m. discussion about how we stay connected to and through the outdoors and what the COVID-19 pandemic has meant for the environment and the wildlife that live in it. You can register to attend — and check out the rest of this year’s Silicon Valley Reads calendar — at www.siliconvalleyreads.org.
A COUPLE OF CHANGES: There’s undoubtedly a lot of talk about new jobs at the San Jose home of Silvia Scandar Mahan and Matt Mahan. Silvia was just appointed as the new president and CEO of Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School, coming from a job as Innovate Public Schools’ regional vice president for San Jose. Of course, Matt is getting used to a relatively new role, too. He was elected to the San Jose City Council last year and started representing District 10 in January.
BIRTHDAY WISHES: Heidi Robertson let me know that her mom, Hildie Wagner, is still going strong and celebrated her 107th birthday Thursday outside Lincoln Glen Skilled Nursing in San Jose, where she lives. Staff members decorated a three-sided plastic box for Wagner to sit behind safely as residents at Lincoln Glen Manor, where she used to live, wished her a happy birthday.
No doubt it has not exactly been a fun year during the pandemic, but Robertson said family friends who also saw her at her 106th birthday last March reported she was much livelier this year. “Our phone calls and window visits several times a week make it all bearable,” Robertson said. “My husband and I look forward to eventually — hopefully — having her over to our house for a special German meal.”
You might recall that another Willow Glen resident, Lenore Luedemann, also celebrated her 107th birthday this month. I’d love for those two to be able to celebrate No. 108 together next year.
SPRING FORWARD: This is one of the two Sundays a year when we get to travel in time, this one an hour into the future and the world of Daylight Savings. You may also remember that former San Jose Assemblyman Kansen Chu made it a mission to get California to stick to one time year round, but his last attempt was waylaid in a state Senate committee last year and, quite frankly, we’ve had bigger things to worry about since then.
With Chu now gone from the state Legislature, will anyone — like his successor, Assemblyman Alex Lee — pick up the challenge to stop all the time changing? Only time will tell.