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Carco Theatre History

The Building

old carco photo webCarco Theatre was built in Cedar River Park in 1971 by the City of Renton with significant financial support from the Paccar (Pacific Car and Foundry Company) Foundation. In fact, Carco derives its name from Paccar.

The original vision for the theatre was to “serve as a center for many community oriented projects from band concerts, dance programs, road shows, and performing arts presentations to public meetings, lecture series. flower shows and community forums.” Except for the flower shows, the vision remains the same to this day.

Possibly the most interesting element of the theatre itself is its 3500sf stage with nearly as much floorspace thrust into the audience as there is behind the proscenium opening. This creates a versatile venue that allows for small, intimate performances to work just as well as grand productions with large casts and lots of movement. The space was also designed with such excellent acoustics that a polite conversation could be held between the stage and the back row without the need for amplification. The lighting equipment has been improved over the years from a few pars in two areas to a full complement of fixtures and electrics throughout the space. As technology has progressed in the last decade, however, Carco has plans to upgrade its equipment to include more LED fixtures and moving lights.

The Occupants

original stage webThe theatre was owned and managed by the City of Renton, who rented to a variety of community groups, primary of which was the Valley Community Players who occupied Carco Theatre for nearly 40 years until the great recession drove them out of business.

From 2010 to 2013, the City of Renton managed the space, but when it was realized that the City was loosing tens of thousands of dollars each year, they decided to rent the theatre to a non-profit management company. Puget Sound Access, a public access channel at that time located in a large warehouse in Kent, signed a lease with the City of Renton.

In 2014, Puget Sound Access hired the current management team, and remarkable improvements were able to be done with the Theatre. We are each seasoned professionals, experts in our fields, with dedication to customer service and an entrepreneurial spirit that drives us to find the best in ourselves and in every situation. Our intention is not to diverge from the original vision, but rather to improve the way we care for the building and serve the community. To that end, we have pursued programs and partnerships in the following areas: Children’s programs, whether by or for children; Independent Film and Video; and Multi-Cultural and Diverse Populations.