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QHS junior Tristan McMichael stands in front of the site of a proposed outdoor theater and/or bandstand at Dame Shirley Park in Quincy. Photo by Meg Upton

Senior Project with a Band Stand Goal

Tristan McMichael thinks he knows the thing that downtown Quincy really needs: an outdoor, family friendly, performance space, and he knows just the place to put it — Dame Shirley Plaza in Quincy.

The student behind Plumas Performing Arts attempting to provide performance opportunities for high school band musicians among others in Plumas County, has another idea, and this time his goal needs a little public space.

The Quincy High School junior came up with the idea this summer and realized it would be an excellent senior project goal.

At least part of the idea had to have come from his own band camp experience last summer in Cazedero. There he had the opportunity to perform at an electrified outdoor amphitheater, which was able to provide lights and sound. He felt like students in Quincy should have a similar venue and opportunity.

McMichael had a hunch it might take more than a year to get the project underway, and the district obliged him to start the work, and the business and finance class now.

Thus far into the school year he’s made a presentation to the Plumas County Board of Supervisors, started a GoFundMe campaign, and talked with his senior project mentor Marty Walters about how to go about getting a structure built on community property in Plumas County.

His proposal seems simple enough. Three diseased trees in the upper part of the park are scheduled for removal and there are already signs warning park goers to watch for falling branches. When that space is vacated by the tree removal, McMichael’s plan would replace them with a 300 to 500 square foot structure between the remaining two trees that could serve as an outdoor theater performance stage with a green room in back and electrical capability for sound and lighting.

He’s ready for neigh-sayers. There currently is only the fairgrounds or the Town Hall Theatre that provide a music or performance setting large enough for a band in a family-friendly setting.

“Most of our venues in town are in bars,” said McMichael, which makes performance options bleak for students.

While McMichael himself is a student musician, he sees the outdoor theater as having multiple uses.

“We could do Shakespeare in the Park. Magic Beanstalk Players could use it. The Community Orchestra could use it. Quircus. Anyone wanting to have an event outside downtown.”

McMichael also cites the popularity of music at the summer farmer markets and hearing from people that the music is missed.

Now comes the hard part — learning the county process and permitting process. Supervisor Lori Simpson suggested a meeting with county administrator Gabriel Hydrick and herself first.

“We had a meeting and both of us were impressed with the research Tristan had done, his enthusiasm and his talents. We stressed the need to do lots of public outreach to the community about the project,” said Simpson.

It comes at perhaps the perfect time since the hazardous elms already need to be removed and the county is planning community outreach around that.

“I’m supportive of his project. It would be a great addition to downtown Quincy, performing arts, and other special events,” added Simpson.

Hydrick had painted some ideas of having a small stage some months prior, according to McMichael.

“First we need blue prints and a solid proposal,” said McMichael, acknowledging the expensive first step in the process. He’s started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for an architect’s plans and seed money for further fundraising.

“Gabriel [Hydrick] has started an email thread with me and the design review committee,” said McMichael.

McMichael is ready to go with a number of fundraising ideas: business sponsorships, benefit concerts and performances, auctions, theater improv nights and more.

He sees the structure as having a big, open lawn in front of the stage, a roof that is angled, a concrete slab base, storage under the stage, with professional lighting and speaker system, and access to electricity.

If the project comes to fruition it will be one senior project that truly has a lasting effect on the community.

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