Campus: CSU Northridge -- October 27, 2004
Council Members Back Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN
1,600-Seat Project Will Expand Region's Arts and Cultural Opportunities
The entire San Fernando Valley delegation of the Los Angeles City Council
endorsed a resolution introduced Friday by Councilman Greig Smith supporting
the development of a planned 1,600-seat Valley Performing Arts Center project
on the Cal State Northridge campus.
Smith, who represents the 12th District that includes Cal State Northridge, urged
the full City Council to support the project and its goals "to educate and enrich
the community, to enhance the cultural and economic growth of the Valley, and to
better define the area as an attractive cultural destination."
The resolution was seconded by Council President Alex Padilla and supported by
the Valley's other council members: Tony Cardenas, Wendy Greuel and Dennis Zine.
Under council procedures, the resolution was referred to a council committee,
which ultimately will bring it back to the full City Council for a vote in the
next month or so.
"I am very pleased to support the Valley Performing Arts Center project at Cal
State Northridge," Councilman Smith said. "The Valley is a region of almost 2
million people and has nearly 40 percent of the city's population. But local
residents now have to drive to other areas to enjoy major performing arts
productions. The Valley deserves its own performing arts center."
Cal State Northridge President Jolene Koester praised the council resolution and
thanked Councilman Smith and the other Valley council members for their support.
"Cal State Northridge is the place where this kind of wonderful, exciting project
can happen," the president said. "With the community's support, we can do this."
Koester added that the university is committed to working and collaborating with
other area arts organizations in pursuit of the project, and ultimately, in its
operation and management. "The center would be located at Cal State Northridge
because we are the Valley's best chance to achieve this project. But we really
see this as a united effort of the entire community."
Although the Valley currently has a number of smaller performing arts venues,
including several at Cal State Northridge, none are large enough to support
large-scale performances such a Broadway-style show or a symphony orchestra. Thus,
the proposed 1,600-seat hall would be the largest facility of its kind in the
Valley and open the region to those kinds of performances.
The university has been planning the project for several years, and has identified
a site near the main entrance to the campus at the northwest corner of Nordhoff
Street and Lindley Avenue. About half of the project's cost is expected to be
covered by state funds, while the other half would come from private donations.
President Koester said the project is CSUN's top building priority.
As envisioned by the university, the Valley Performing Arts Center project would
be a cultural hub for the region and serve as an attractive meeting place for
large community events, both for the Valley and the surrounding North Los Angeles
County and eastern Ventura County areas. The center as planned would host
professional, community and university performances.
Already each year, through its prestigious College of Arts, Media, and Communication,
Cal State Northridge hosts several hundred performances of music, theater, dance
and other arts--most at modest prices and all open to the public. In addition to
student shows, CSUN contracts with professional artists to perform and rents its
current, smaller 500-seat venue to community groups.
The university is readying a fundraising campaign in support of the Valley
Performing Arts Center project, and is forming a campaign committee co-chaired by
some of the most prominent business and community leaders in the region. The goal
will be to raise about $50 million to permit the project to be completed by the
end of the decade.
William Toutant, dean of CSUN's College of Arts, Media, and Communication, said
the future center will attract world-class performers who will provide special
classes for the university's students, pre-performance lectures for the community,
and enable partnerships to enhance the arts education available to students in
local public schools.
Toutant said the future center also will help the university to enhance its
academic programs in the arts. The dean said he currently is exploring a new arts
and facilities management program in which students could learn about the management
side of the arts, as well as an entertainment engineering program melding the
technical and creative sides of the arts.
As planned, the future center also would have other spaces beyond the 1,600-seat
hall, including a 250-seat "black box" theater, rehearsal spaces, a lecture hall,
laboratories specializing in sound and lighting, and become the new home for campus
radio station KCSN 88.5 FM. The state will financially support the project because
it will be part of the university's academic programs.
Campus officials said the available university land for the project, the state's
expected financial support and the ongoing operational support the center would
receive from the university make it a much more viable project than any commercial
alternative, which would have to be self-supporting and thus charge corresponding
"This is a real opportunity to improve the quality of the cultural life for the
entire community," President Koester said. "This project is deserving of support
from the city and the entire community."