The Las Vegas-Clark County Library District did the right thing last week when it rolled back huge fee hikes imposed just months ago at the Summerlin Library and Performing Arts Center.
The goal, last April, was to collect high enough fees from community theater groups and other users of the facility to cover 100 percent of the district's costs. But the real-world result would have been to leave the performance space mostly dark, benefiting no one.
Broadway Bound paid $3,700 in rent for a two-week run of "The Wizard of Oz" earlier this year at the Summerlin Library. Under the new rates, the same show would cost $27,000, an eight-fold increase. So Broadway Bound moved to the College of Southern Nevada's North Las Vegas campus. Signature Productions, another community theater group, was prepared to move its shows to another location, as well.
"We should not be forced to pay 100 percent of the cost when other library services are totally subsidized," complained Karl Larsen, president and executive producer of Signature Productions.
Last Thursday, the library board lowered the hourly rental rate for theaters from $170 to $40. Security will cost $15. The deposit, put up when a theater is reserved, is now 50 percent or $7,500, whichever is lower.
Robb Morss, the library district's deputy director, said the new rates would allow the library district to recover about 70 percent of its expenses.
There's nothing wrong with the library district looking for ways to pay its bills. But in a competitive environment, the district can't expect to collect more than the market will bear. Last week's adjustments were a sensible acknowledgment of market realities.