October 6, 2022
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Rubicon ready to shine

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To coincide with Ventura County’s Rubicon Theatre Company’s 10th anniversary, the organization is launching the inaugural Rubicon International Theatre Festival this summer.

From July 16 through 27, the festival will offer residents and visitors a fusion of international theater productions and new works, and is expected to have an impact on the economy of the region, area officials said.

Four plays will premiere at this year’s festival with a focus on presenting international theater troupes in a unique setting. Performers are from France, Ireland, Israel and Ivory Coast.

Organizers said the Rubicon’s goal is to produce an annual festival in Ventura to stimulate the economy as well as expose visitors to the artistic attractions of “California’s New Arts City.”

“The first 10 years of the Rubicon has had a $26 million impact on the area,” Executive Director Edgar Rosenblum said. “This is our first year and just our preview, but by 2009 we hope to have anywhere from seven to 11 companies and an expenditure of closer to $2 million to $3 million for spending money in the community.”

Rosenblum said the arts are a significantly growing infrastructure in Ventura County, and the addition of the festival will have a key impact within the city and its surrounding areas.

“Keeping money in a place like Ventura is as important as evolving it. And we can definitely hear the impact in the local community,” he said.

The festival is expected to spend more than $1 million annually in the community, Rosenblum said.

However, the festival’s regional economic impact will be more than just ticket sales – attendees will spend money on lodging, restaurants and the city’s shops and boutiques.

Festival organizers are reaching out to the community by inviting businesses to create booths at the Theatre Fair. While giving festival attendees a taste of some of the city’s cuisine, this will also give them a sample of the atmosphere in Ventura.

“The festival is going to take a few years to get going, but if we can establish it, it’s the kind of project that can bring interest from all over the world,” said James O’Neil, one of the founders of the festival. “This could put Ventura on the map in terms of international exposure, and you can imagine the impact that will have on everything from hotels to restaurants to other recreational businesses. Within five years, this could be a very big thing, and I hope people choose to support it.”

Festival organizers are looking to eventually grow the event to 10 to 12 shows over a two-week period, potentially drawing in thousands of visitors. Sponsors are looking to reach the success of a similar 17-day event in South Carolina called the Spoleto Festival, which brings nearly $75 million to the area’s economy.

The Rubicon festival has taken a step toward gaining the support of Ventura residents by going green.

“On our way to becoming fully funded, Southern California Gas Co. gave us a very interesting proposition which was that they would support us if we became a green festival,” said Linda Purl, the festival director.

She said every $1 spent on a theater ticket represents $11 spent in the community. So, finding ways to become green has had a far-reaching impact on the influence and culture of the festival. “This festival is an additional asset in expanding the dream of really putting Ventura on the map,” Purl said.

“When I’m looking at how the Gas Co. can engage the community, I’m looking at how we can make an economic difference but make an impact,” said Michele Pettes, public affairs manager for the Gas Co. “It’s exciting to see the economic impact that this is going to have on the county.”

With Ventura County in an economic lull, festival organizers are looking to bring a positive and environmentally efficient impact to residents and tourists.

Making an investment in the arts could prove to be a powerful tool for the economy in Ventura, they said.