What were originally undertaken as upgrades and improvements to the Redlands Bowl are getting less than rave reviews upon completion, as attendees at this season’s performances report that the poles for the replacement and new crow’s nests put in place for sound and lighting interfere with the view of the stage, at least from certain perspectives.
Since 1924, the Redlands Bowl has served as a venue for a variety of musical and theatrical performances put on by entities, troupes and organizations from Redlands and elsewhere in the Inland Empire region, such as the Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival and formerly the Redlands Shakespeare Festival. The
Redlands Bowl Summer Music Festival holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously running summer music festival in the United States where no admission is charged. Other performing arts programs put on at the Redlands Bowl include the Children’s Summer Festival Workshops, Young Artists Auditions, and Music in the Schools Programs. The Redlands Bowl is also used for other
community events, including graduations for local schools.Pursuant to a 2007 agreement with the Redlands Bow Performing Arts Center, the city is responsible for the maintenance of the structural elements, including electrical and mechanical systems other than the electrical breakers and service feeds to the bowl electrical infrastructure, such that the city is responsible for the wiring
and conduit from Southern Californian Edison’s existing service transformer to the room that holds the breakers and service feed.
In 2017, the Redlands Bowl’s sound and lighting system experienced a series of malfunctions due to deteriorating infrastructure. City staff’s inspection of existing infrastructure in place for many decades and a subsequent assessment by an engineering firm determined that there was a need for repairs and upgrades to
the main electrical feed, breaker room, underground conduit and wiring, replacement of existing audio/video towers, and the addition of new audio and video towers.
In April 2019, the city council appropriated funds for infrastructure improvements and staff issued a solicitation of bids for construction to include the removal and replacement of the existing theatrical sound and lighting system, including new towers, equipment, and a new utility service to provide sufficient power based on plans and specifications provided by Design West Engineering. The city advertised the project on August 31, 2022 and the city clerk’s office received and opened four bids from Jergensen Construction Inc., My Electrician, Inc., Armstrong Cal Builders Inc. and Pro-Cal Lighting Inc. for the project on September 22, 2022.
Jergensen, as the low bidder at $1,416,972, subsequently withdrew and Staff reviewed the bids and My Electrician Inc, with its bid of $2 million was accepted as the low bidder. The city council awarded My Electrician Inc the $2 million contract.
The project has now been completed.
According to attendees at a performance at the bowl this week, “The lighting and sound system are hideous. The lighting and sound system is accessed by a ladder on a pole, which blocks your view. Does the ladder meet the city’s code? It’s appalling… and tacky.”
According to another, “The sound was horrible.”
One resident told the Sentinel that before the design was finalized, professionals with experience relating to entertainment forums “should have been consulted.”
Carl Baker, the city’s public information officer, said, “The city is not going to comment on anonymous observations regarding these improvements.”