Budget cuts have forced the Palmdale Playhouse to eliminate national and international acts from its upcoming season and instead focus on community performances and activities.

The city-owned performing arts center trimmed 45 percent from its budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Last year, the center laid off 20 percent of its workforce and now makes do with a bare minimum of staffers to operate and maintain the 340-seat venue.

?ike any organization we have had to tighten our belts,?said marketing manager David Smith.

That belt tightening puts the playhouse on a track that renews the original mission of giving area residents the opportunity to put their talent and time onstage in theater, dance, and choir programs.

The venue also hosts educational programs and writers workshops that bring families and neighbors together.

At the playhouse, Smith has seen one family member get involved in one artistic pursuit and within a couple years other members have joined in as well.

?t is family time and they get time to be here together,?Smith said.

As the city went about trimming $3 million from its budget maintaining as many youth programs as possible at the playhouse and city library became a priority, Mayor Jim Ledford said.

With that priority the axe fell on the funding for national touring acts. This year? slate included Juice Newton, Melissa Manchester, and Richie Havens playing in an intimate setting.

When the economy improves, Smith said, it is intended to bring back the national acts.

In the meantime, playhouse staff follows a strategy of being tied in with the community it serves. In that it differs from the Lancaster Performing Arts Center, which seats more people and still brings in big-name performers.

Certainly geography plays a part in making that strategy work.

There is a growing arts community in the Antelope Valley and not a lot of places for people to go to either take classes in the pursuit of their choice or to perform.

There are a few local community theater groups, two of which use the playhouse. Writers groups meet at local libraries, and area high schools and Antelope Valley College have arts programs as well.

?hat is not a lot of outlets for a valley with such a large population,?Smith said.