The PAC is getting a makeover

A new sound system, new seats and a new ticketing system are coming this summer to the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo.

Many of the improvements, which will cost a total of $2.4 million, have been planned since the venue opened 16 years ago, PAC managing director Ron Regier said.

The 1,287-seat Harman Hall is the site of the upgrades, scheduled to be completed by Sept. 23.

The hall’s now-obsolete house audio system, used to amplify performances and public addresses, will be replaced by line array technology by Meyer Sound. Meanwhile, the company’s state-of-the-art Constellation sound system will be installed above the stage. (The total cost is $1.48 million.)

“Our problem isn’t what the audience hears. It’s what the musicians don’t hear,” Regier said, explaining that Harmon Hall’s high ceilings have a tendency to swallow up sound, preventing performers from hearing one another.

An array of speakers and microphones similar to the one installed at Cuesta College’s Cultural and Performing Arts Center should remedy that situation, he said, while enhancing the experience for audience members seated closest to the stage.

New seats designed by Series Seating will replace the squeaky pink seats familiar to PAC regulars. The replacement chairs, which cost $733,000, feature rust-red, stain-resistant fabric and reddish-brown wood armrests and backs. Some of the old seats will be donated to the San Luis Obispo Little Theatre.

Regier said most of the funding for the upgrades, including a refinished stage floor, will come from the PAC’s Major Equipment Maintenance, Repair and Replacement fund, with the rest paid by the Foundation for the Performing Arts.

In addition, San Luis Obispo’s USL Inc. has donated a new Harkness micro-perforated movie screen for use in Harman Hall.

The improvements coincide with the launch of a more streamlined ticketing system, a $162,025 upgrade funded by Cal Poly.

Event-goers can now purchase tickets for sporting events, performing arts performances and ASI (Associated Students Inc.) events through a single website, PolyTix (https://tickets.calpoly.edu).

The new system automatically incorporates facility, processing and other fees into one all-inclusive price.

“The price that’s advertised is the price you pay,” Regier explained.

PAC patrons will also have more convenient times to purchase tickets. Currently open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, the box office will now be open noon to 6 p.m. those days.

On performance days, event-goers can now buy tickets online up until an hour before curtain, or buy them in person up until a half-hour after the show starts.

Audience members won’t have to pay for parking, either.

Although Cal Poly charged event-goers $6 a vehicle in the past, the PAC is footing the parking garage bill this season, Regier said. The change will not affect ticket prices, he added.