August 26, 2002 Vol. VII, No. 1



Project concept artist's rendering of the future CSUN Performing Arts Center.


1,600-Seat Performing Arts Center Planned for Campus

Venue Would Reinforce University's Role as Cultural Hub for San Fernando Valley

Seeking to enhance the artistic life of the San Fernando Valley and the university's own arts programs, Cal State Northridge officials have unveiled plans for a future $75 million Performing Arts Center on the campus that would become the largest venue of its kind in the Valley.

The planned 1,600-seat complex is being proposed on a prominent site at the front of the campus, on the Music Lawn area at the northwest corner of Nordhoff Street and Lindley Avenue, near the buildings that house CSUN's Music and Theatre Departments. Campus officials said the project could be completed toward the end of the decade.

"This university serves very much as a cultural hub for the San Fernando Valley, and this is a way for us to expand and fulfill our mission," said CSUN President Jolene Koester. The president noted that the university already has a nationally recognized music program and a theater program that is well known in the industry.

College of Arts, Media, and Communication Dean William Toutant, who has been spearheading planning for the project, said he envisions the university-managed complex as a partnership involving the university, the community and the arts. The venue would host both major university performances and events by off-campus performers and groups.

The planned future arts center would be about three times the size of the university's current largest performance space, the 500-seat Performing Arts Center now located in the University Student Union. Once the new complex is completed, Toutant said the smaller facility likely would focus more on campus uses and smaller performances.

Campus officials acknowledged that raising funds for the future Performing Arts Center will be a challenge. If two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters approve a county bond measure on the ballot this November to fund arts and science projects, CSUN would get $15 million of those funds and would have to raise another $15 million in private funds.

That would leave an additional $40 million to $45 million the university hopes to obtain from the state's higher education bond funds that are allocated through the California State University system. President Koester noted, though, that the university intends to pursue the project regardless of the outcome of the county bond measure.

Toutant said the future facility would provide the San Fernando Valley a large visual performing arts venue suited to a region of 1.6 million people, capable of accommodating full-scale university and professional orchestral and theatrical performances. The Valley presently does not have an arts venue large enough for such uses.

The CSUN center would be comparably sized to UCLA's Royce Hall (1,800-seats), the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts (1,700-seats), and USC's Bovard Auditorium (1,500-seats). Other than UCLA, the next closest such facility for Valley residents is the distant Thousand Oaks performing arts center.

As planned, CSUN's project would total 163,000 square feet, including a 50,000-square-foot main hall, a 250-seat "black box" theater, 130-seat lecture hall, rehearsal hall, dressing rooms, three classrooms, lighting lab, design studio, recording studio and supporting shops. The complex also would house campus radio station KCSN 88.5 FM.

Project parking would be provided separately, from current CSUN surface lots between Etiwanda and Darby avenues north of Nordhoff Street, and from an already-approved 1,500-space CSUN parking structure to be built in the same area in the next several years. Because most events would be in the evening, current campus parking could be shared.

Toutant said he has no doubt about the public appetite for such a facility. A preliminary market assessment showed, within a 15-mile radius of the university, 150,000 high-propensity households for traditional arts events and 380,000 mid-to-high propensity households for Broadway and popular entertainment.


@csun | August 26, 2002 issue
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