Kristen Nevarez Schweizer
June 15, 2023
A hot location for an innovative theater
In March 2023, Trinity Theatre Company moved into Westfield’s Mission Valley Mall.
Boyd reached out to Westfield prior to the 2020 pandemic with a savvy dream – the shopping center is anchored by a Target, AMC Theatre, and a Nordstrom Rack – and has its own stop on the MTS trolley green line and sits at the crux of major freeways, but the number of empty storefronts inspired him to wonder if this was a possible new home for them and a bigger dream for San Diego’s art scene.
“I’d love to see more performing arts here, visual arts even, to create an arts district or theatre row. Malls are an experience. It can be more than restaurants and retail. [Westfield Mission Valley] has a virtual reality shop and a hip-hop music studio. Jurassic World was just here, there’s an Inflatable World,” Boyd enthused. “There is a desire in the community for more experiences and a need for places people can gather.”
There is already a successful local model for a mixed-use arts and restaurant district at NTC Liberty Station’s ARTS DISTRICT. The former Navy campus now houses numerous arts organizations, museums, and nonprofits of all sizes. Cygnet Theatre Company is in the process of renovating Navy Building 187 into a two-stage performing arts center.
Boyd’s glowing joy for their future is apparent. He emphasized that TTC is open within its flexible theatrical space to grow and change along with the needs of each project or event. So far, the theatre includes 60 feet of performance space and a 30×10 stage, but they are using temporary walls to keep their options open.
“We are a theatre; this is a performance venue where we can rehearse, create, and produce but isn’t always going to be a standard play or musical. We have a bright and spacious lobby; we’re embracing the windows. We can be experimental and creative because [we’ve laid it] out to remain open. That’s important, to let it be whatever [the community] needs it to be.”
TTC youth education program growth
While TTC produces professional theatre, including a new works festival, it is primarily fueled by its youth education program. The camp offers summer camps, school programming, and youth productions for children and teens.
“Last year, we served 750 youths, this year, we’re poised to reach 1,500 [students]. Most participate tuition-free due to funding from districts, grants, foundations, and individual donors,” said Boyd.“…It is part of our mission to make theatre available to youth of all backgrounds, and we have served inside schools all over [the city and county, including Del Mar, South Bay, and San Diego Unified School District] for nearly a decade, but this [accessible new location] will be a chance to stop being islands and come together physically.”
As Young Actor’s Theatre may lose its longtime Spring Valley stage and the molestation charges surrounding Christian Youth Theatre, TTC’s expansion serves as a beacon of hope for San Diego’s budding thespians.
Their enthusiastic vision, fueled by bold asks.
Boyd’s team is finding “artistically juicy” fun in the big dreams and minute details. As their location was formally a PayLess store, he declared joy in the “difficult and bizarre challenge of figuring out how to use PayLess shelving as a costume rack.”
When asked his advice for theatre companies or arts organizations of similar size who may be interested in sharing his dream for a Mission Valley arts hub or growing as TTC has since it was founded in 2012, Boyd said, “The key is to ask. If you have an idea or a dream, go ask. We have received incredible grant and donor support over the years… and have been so immediately welcomed by [Westfield Mission Valley]. I’m so glad I asked.”