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Breaking News

University By the Sea Headed to Dry Dock

From Issue: Volume XVI - Number 13

Steve Propes

There will be no three-peat of University By the Sea. After two successful years of operation, the education, entertainment and general interest series of classes and street events held under the University By the Sea banner has fallen victim to hard economic times.

According to the event’s creator and chief promoter, Ryan Smolar, the idea for University By the Sea came from a city strategic plan designed to match CSULB resources with those of downtown.

And it worked. In 2007, 5,000 people participated on Pine Avenue and in 2008, 7,500 people participated at the East Village, people that would not otherwise have gone downtown. Smolar regarded it a win for DLBA (Downtown Long Beach Business Association), which matched dollars for the first University By the Sea, which cost about $150,000 to promote and produce.

Among classes taught were those on the Roman Republic by Mayor Bob Foster, the Rise & Fall of Fenders International Ballroom by Alex Chernin and How To Be Like Justin Rudd by Justin Rudd. The most popular classes had to do with Long Beach history, food and alcohol. Other classes taught Swashbuckling, How To Be A Drag Queen and Laughing Yoga.

Even though University By the Sea won’t be held this year, benefits linger. These accomplishments include preservation of the Jergins Tunnel, which had been designated to be filled with trash and sealed and the extension of restaurant sidewalks on First Street because of Brian Ulaszewski’s “Street of Tomorrow.”

This year, seed money dropped to $10,000 and even that wasn’t officially offered. And with the bad economy, outside funding evaporated for the first time. By May, Smolar realized the event wouldn’t be feasible. Past staffers like music curator Justin Hectus is busy promoting the DLBA’s Summer Music series and staffer Evan Kelly produced the Annual Tour de Artiste’s.

Smolar and co-producer Rachel Potucek remain occupied with the upcoming Books By Authors, and the new Arts Council Artist Registry.

Potucek stressed that DLBA support and funds helped make University By the Sea the success it was.