Construction is scheduled to begin this academic year for the Imagine the Arts Center project, which received $2.5 million this summer toward its $100 million price tag from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
“I’ve studied the drawings, and I can say without hesitation that there’s very little this center can’t do,” said Ralph Hoskins, executive director of the performing arts center project, which will break ground east of Cypress Hall, near the corner of Nordhoff and Lindley avenues.
Zev Yaroslavsky, chairman of the county board of supervisors, announced in June that a $2 million contribution would be contributed to the project. And just one moth later in July, Michael D. Antonovich, one of the board’s supervisors, contributed $500,000 more on behalf of Los Angeles County.
As only 50 more seats can be implemented into the 500-seat Plaza del Sol Performing Hall in the University Student Union, the Imagine the Arts Center would have an increased seating capacity, with a 1,700-seat hall for performances and a 200-seat black box theatre for small productions, said Gailya Brown, the project’s campaign director.
While half of the project will be funded through private donations, the state of California is expected to cover the rest of the $100 million the center is estimated to cost.
“The theatre department and music department worked with the architects in the design of the building. It has state of the art facilities,” Brown said.
Lecture halls in which to have classroom discussions, full-size rehearsals and broadcasts for KCSN-FM, the campus radio station, would also be features of the Imagine the Arts Center. The larger venues could help lure acts and performances that were too large to play at the Plaza del Sol.
“There are no venues large enough in this area at all where you could afford to book a top name act or a Broadway show because you’d have to charge $500 a ticket.” Brown said.
Ken Swisher, CSUN’s assistant vice president of public relations and strategic communications, said students would “be able to have access to first-class performances, a huge educational opportunity in terms of the arts.”
Although the performing arts center would help CSUN gain more prestige when it opens its doors on late 2009 or early 2010, the project was meant to serve students and the local community, not as a profit venture.
“So there will be additional money that’ll need to be raised, but there will very rarely be any profit. Ticket prices are probably only going to pay about 50 to 60 percent,” Brown said.
Swisher said students wouldn’t be the only benefactors of the new Imagine the Arts Center, as it would probably attract Broadway-like performances and other cultures that didn’t used to have access to the San Fernando Valley.
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