The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

The student media organization of California State University Northridge

Daily Sundial

Got a tip? Have something you need to tell us? Contact us

Loading Recent Classifieds...

New Performing Arts Center breaks ground

University and community leaders joined together Wednesday evening to celebrate the beginning of construction of the $125 million Valley Performing Arts Center at CSUN.

The Mike Curb College courtyard was the site of the two-hour event. During a catered pre-ceremony reception, about 500 invited guests sipped wine and munched on “mactinis,” macaroni-and-cheese served in martini glasses, and a variety of finger foods, while enjoying the sounds of the CSUN Jazz “A” Band.

Participants were led to their seats by dashiki-clad members of the CSUN Masanga Marimba Ensemble. After opening remarks by Vance Peterson, vice president of University Advancement, the very funny Garry Marshall took over as master of ceremonies.

Lead designer for the project, Jamie Milne Rojek, of HGA Architects and Engineers, described the components of the VPAC while a slide show of 3-D architectural renderings and artist’s drawings flashed on two big screens flanking the dais. She told the audience that the 1,700-seat main concert hall is similar in size to the Ahmanson Theater but is unique in our area because it has been designed to be an acoustically-flexible space capable of handling Broadway-caliber productions, musical concerts and plays, and even movie premieres.

“We also designed the orchestra area to function as a more intimate space for smaller events as well,” Rojek said during a brief interview before the ceremony.

The audience collectively “ooh’d” and “aah’d” when Robert Bucker, dean of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication expressed his hopes that the VPAC would host events, “like a Shakespeare Spring among the grove of 150 trees” that will surround the center, or a “freeway jam” with musicians from around the region coming to CSUN.

The ground-breaking portion of the ceremony was announced with a fanfare from the CSUN Brass Ensemble, and the curtains to one side of the stage opening to reveal a shiny yellow bulldozer. After dropping a pile of dirt next to the stage, dignitaries including CSUN President Jolene Koester, two city council members and other campaign members donned their hard hats, grabbed their gilded and beribboned shovels, and dug into the pile.

Many of the speakers referenced the benefits the Center would offer the Valley community and the Los Angeles region. President Jolene Koester said that if the San Fernando Valley was a city, it would be the fifth-largest U.S. city, having a population of 2 million – more than one-third the population of the City of Los Angeles, and one-sixth of the County of Los Angeles.

“It would be the only one without a performing arts center,” Koester said.

Fundraising campaign vice-chairman and million-dollar donor David Fleming, called the San Fernando Valley “the world’s cradle for creativity,” while emcee Marshall asked, “Why not a performing arts center in the Valley? All the studios are here.”

Never missing an opportunity to gain support for the project, Koester closed her speech by saying, “I might mention that several wonderful naming opportunities are available.”

Another $30 million is needed to fully cover the cost of construction and fundraisers are hoping some businesses will step up. Most of the private donations received to date have come from individuals in the community.

“I think it was an effective event,” said Gailya Brown, director of the Imagine the Arts fundraising campaign. “One steering committee member who has been giving regular gifts annually gave us a check, and another person said he believes his foundation can do something for us.”

The VPAC will be under construction for 25 months, said Brett Curry, project executive for contractor C.W. Driver.

More to Discover