The Sound & Light Project

PERFORMANCES AT THE BCC: One of our biggest goals is to bring more music and theater performances to our Community Center and to create a well equipped and inviting space for our performers and patrons. Bolinas has always had an impressive array of local talent in theater, music, and dance. We have an After School Theater Class B-CAST (Bolinas Children’s After School Theater) run by Artistic Director Lisa Townsend. We also host performances almost every year by The Bolinas Bay Performing Arts and Molly Maguire as well as other local Screenwriters and Directors, like Dale Polissar, Jerry Bojeste, and other local theater companies. We want to further encourage these artists and help the community enjoy their talent by creating for them the first-class performance venue they deserve. Years of study and discussion have given us a clear idea of what it will take to do this, and we have organized the results into the five projects outlined below.

HALL ACOUSTICS Fall 2011, we covered the stage ceiling with sound-absorbent material. Musicians and patrons both are extremely excited about the improvement in the acoustics. For years, local bands refused to play on the stage due to extremely poor acoustics. The hall is all wood with no sound baffling (until November 2012), which used to create an annoying echo and excessive reverb for musicians on-stage as well as an enormous bass standing wave in the hall that defies soundboard control.  Over the past few years, community member and engineer Dr. Don Smith has volunteered his services, time and a cash loan to help fix the sound problem in the hall. We’ve also obtained input from two outside consulting acoustic engineers.


In the fall of 2012, the Point Reyes Dance Palace generously donated their old lights and dimmers to the BCC and we now have a total of 20 lights in the hall. For a long time before that there were only five working theater lights at the BCC.  Since many of the lights we did receive from the Dance Palace are old and use too much power we hope to be able to upgrade to some LED fixtures and ETC Source-4 ellipsoidals in the near future. Currently we have: 6 par cans, 8 fresnels, 10 “ColorTran” spotlights, one “Source-4” and 2 odd-brand spotlights.


The BCC intent is to build racks under the stage to store the tables. This would clear up the floor space in the hall.

The stage back curtain we have is dreadfully old, discolored and patched and takes 15 minutes with two people sweating on ladders to roll back up after each use; we need a new and heavier one – for both appearance and acoustics – that is easy to roll up and down. A cyclorama for the stage would also enhance stage appearance significantly, ideally one with the easy roll-up-and-down feature as well.


We have embarked  on a “Technician Training Class for Youth” to teach youth how to use and operate the sound and lighting equipment. Tiny, rural Bolinas doesn’t have much to offer its youth, and we believe this is a great opportunity, for those so inclined, to learn a fantastic trade in their hometown and even get paid for running gigs at the BCC as a light or sound technician in the future. We received a grant for $1,500 from West Marin Fund to make this training happen – if interested in being part, please contact or call (415) 868-2128. This is an ongoing project.

Sound & Light Project Items

(Highest priorities listed first in each of the 5 project lists)

Hall Acoustics

Research and engineering (volunteered) 100hr
Acoustics consultant (Salter Eng.) $660*
Measurement equipment (dB meter, tone gen., spectrum analyzer) $550*
Absorbent material, cover fabric, framing, hardware $1080*
Absorbent installation (volunteered) 50hr

Lighting Equipment

24-channel control console (to replace borrowed one) $1700
Extension cables, dimmers to lighting fixtures $900
12 channels of DMX dimmers (to replace 1984 analog pack) $2100
4 Elation 36W DMX-driven 4-color LED wash-light fixtures $1600
9 ETC Source-4 ellipsoidals (to replace 1984 Colortran’s) $4500
6 mounting pipes & ceiling attachments $680*
Lighting Tech: installations, repairs & parts Fall 2012 $1330*
Pipe engineering & installation (volunteered) 40hr

Sound Equipment

Custom built portable, locking control booth $1500
Locking cabinet for stage equipment $1000
Main-speaker quake-safe overhead suspension at stage edges $600
Wireless mike system $500
6 compressors for vocal & drum channels $600
2x DBX 31-band EQs for 4 monitor channels $400
Reverb/Delay Unit $200
Drum mic kit $400
25’ and 12’ audio cables $150
2 self-powered monitor speakers $1100

Stage Upgrade

Heavy velour backdrop curtain $800
Cyclorama (10×19’ white polyester, all edges hemmed) $200
Rolling-up gear for curtain & cyclorama $ ?

Youth Tech Training $1,500.00

*Expenses to date, borrowed from other budgets or Center members

Let There Be Sound and Light

Over the past 9 years, BCC has accomplished major upgrades to the acoustics and the sound and theater-lighting systems in the main hall, with the goal of providing a professional-quality venue worthy of our treasure-trove of local performing artists. Tens of thousands of dollars has been saved on this work because of hundreds of hours volunteered by BCC members including a retired engineer who designed and installed most of the upgrades, and because we received a donation of 24 vintage but high-quality spotlights and other stage lights that we refurbished, mounted on new light pipes, and wired into a 24-channel programmable lighting console obtained at low cost from a friend of BCC.


The acoustic work included cladding the rear wall and the stage ceiling with 4”-thick absorbent material, and moving the main speakers 4’ out from the front corners and inserting enormous custom-built bass traps behind them, all with sufficient attention to aesthetics that most people don’t even see these additions. But the audible results include a dramatic drop in booming and muddy bass, no more echo from the rear wall, a much quieter stage on which the musicians can now hear each other, and better sound uniformity throughout the hall.


By careful design and layout, we have made the setting up and running of this equipment as easy and convenient as possible in order to make it accessible to theater-tech novices. A cabinetmaker friend of BCC built us at half price a portable, elevated, sit-in sound booth to contain the lighting console, a new 24-channel state-of-the-art digital sound console bought through fundraising events, and a new 4-channel digital wireless mic system obtained from a grant. At the front of the hall, a parallel 4-channel mini-console provides sound for class teachers, an on-stage cubby holds our 15 mics and all of the stage cables, and we’ve built new compact storage units for the power amplifiers, mic stands, and monitor speakers. We’ve written user guides and offer ongoing training sessions for all of this equipment, to help local groups mount their own productions while minimizing expenses.

– Don Smith

Through fundraising and grant monies BCC was able to purchase and install a new projector, an Optoma Pro scene 1080P projector. – Kate Ryan-Ross