Carmel Magazine

Spring/Summer 2020

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46 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R LOCALKNOWLEDGE Christine Sandin Executive and Artistic Director of Sunset Cultural Center C armel's Sunset Cultural Center is the undisputed gem among Monterey County performing arts venues. Its inspirational, cathedral-ceilinged 700-seat auditorium boasts superb acoustics and audience comfort and the Center's various smaller rooms host a variety of events, from intimate concerts to community meetings to art shows. So, it's no won- der that Sunset Cultural Center, Inc.—the nonprofit entity that oversees it—chose carefully when selecting the person who would head up the operation. Christine Sandin has held the position of executive and artistic director since 2012 after two years as marketing and development consultant. She manages a budget of $3.5 million and programs multi-genre performances under the umbrella of "Sunset Presents." The list of artists who have performed at the Center includes Chris Botti, The Temptations, Joan Rivers, John Lithgow, Leon Russell, David Sedaris and the Harlem Gospel Choir among many others. The main stage sees somewhere between 155 and 175 presentations each year. "That's nearly 70 percent—a very healthy utilization rate." Sandin says. Sandin holds a BS from Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, with dual majors in entrepreneurial studies and marketing communications and also a professional certificate in online music marketing from Berklee College of Music in Boston. She lives in Carmel Valley with her husband, Joe Fletcher. They have two children, senior Ethan and sophomore Eliza, both at Carmel High School. Q: What prior experience did you bring to your position at Sunset? A: I was sales and marketing director for a 6,100-seat arena in Durham, New Hampshire, and concert event director for my husband's former company, Concerts North, Inc. in Boston. In 2007, I moved to the Monterey Peninsula to take the position of festival director for the Monterey Bay Blues Festival. Among other duties, I oversaw the Festival's Blues in the Schools pro- gram and increased festival attendance by 22 percent. Q: What is the best part of your job? A: By far, the best par t of my job is connecting people with inspirational ar tists that stir our souls and connect us to each other through our common emotional responses. My favorite moments include standing in the back of the theater observ- ing audience reactions to the performances I've selected for our community. Q: How do you determine which performers to bring to Sunset Presents? A: In the end, I rely primarily on gut instinct, but I have a lot of tools I use to get to that point. These include a combination of agency relationships that inform me of upcoming tours, booking in tandem with colleagues at other West Coast facilities, exam- ining artist ticket sales history, and of course, input from our community via the audience surveys we conduct each year. We know what our niche is, and we stick with it. Q: How is the Center funded? A: Sunset Cultural Center, Inc. is a separate entity and not connected to the City of Carmel-by-the-Sea. That said, we do receive $750,000 from the City toward our $3.5 million operating costs. Sunset Presents ticket sales bring in around $900,000 and the remainder is derived from rental income, fundraising and grants. Q: What do you see in the future for Sunset? A: When this COVID-19 crisis and the related impacts from an extended closure pass, I see nothing but a bright future of bigger, better, more for Sunset Cultural Center, Inc. Ours is a communi- ty that already strongly supports the arts, and I truly believe we may all find an even deeper appreciate for the role they play in our lives in our "new normal"—whenever that may be. —Michael Chatfield

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