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The Heritage Forum: an Opinion

Quite a forbidding external aspect!

By Michael Buss, 2011-11-13
Not being able to attend the Broadway Rocks Anaheim 2011 concert on November 5th (because I was in a show at Huntington Beach Playhouse) I followed up with a visit to the Heritage Forum the next day – by going to church!

The venue is described as “Anaheim’s most innovative theatre-in-the-round, accommodating up to 2,500 in seating. The stage designers claim to have created unique configurations to increase stage capacity, making the Heritage Forum one of the most versatile venues on the West Coast.”

So I have always wondered why its event calendar was almost completely empty! How could Moving On Entertainment, owned by Pastor Art Aragon and his wife Joann, cover the costs when almost nobody ever went there – except the church.

People had told me of the dangerous steps from the sloping ramps to the rows of seats. But the last time I attempted to go there, last December, I got run over in the street by a police car! (Yes, I have made a pretty good recovery, thank you.)

Perhaps 200 people were in attendance for the morning service. Everyone was friendly and approachable. It was then I discovered that this was to be the final Sunday service in the Forum. What would happen to the building? One of the aisle stewards ventured the suggestion that it would be up for sale.

I soon discovered that the entire church is relocating to share the Light of the Canyon church building in Weir Canyon.

Back in June 2009 the OC Register reported that the $5.5 million bank loan from the Evangelical Christian Credit Union which financed the purchase of the Forum was in default and that the owners were working on a loan modification.

I now understand the Heritage Forum is under bank foreclosure and is effectively closed.

At one time it was thought that if it were available the Heritage Forum would make an ideal place for the anticipated Performing Arts Center. But having taken stock of the facility when I was there I must say that, in my opinion, it would be extremely unsuitable for the purpose. Yes, those sloping steps from the ramps to the seats are dreadful. However did they pass safety inspection? And the website calendar shows the Forum never did draw the anticipated events and crowds despite its being lauded as such an amazing venue. Producers and event planners have evidently voted with their feet - by not going there.

The arena style performance space needs to be replaced with a proper proscenium stage. It’s possible the building could be gutted and totally refurbished. Or it could be demolished and replaced with something far more befitting the vision of those who want to see a new performing arts center in Anaheim. That is sheer conjecture.

But have no doubt, this will cost a huge amount of money and we might not expect to hear any news of the fate of the Heritage Forum for quite a while.



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