A state governmental body has recommended to the California State Legislature that $8.9 million in state funding be reduced from the budget for the performing arts center planned to be built at CSUN.
The Imagine the Arts Center, formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center, is a 1,700-seat facility planned to begin construction on the east side of Cypress Hall in Fall 2007, said John Chandler, CSUN spokesperson.
The Legislative Analyst’s Office, a governmental body in Sacramento that analyzes the state budget proposed by the governor, has recommended that 6 percent of proposed state funding be cut, according to a document posted on the CSU website.
CSUN estimated the total construction cost of the center at $100 million, and the CSU Board of Trustees requested $56.5 million in funds from the state, Chandler said.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supported that request in his January budget proposal. But in March, the LAO released its report recommending that a reduced amount of $47.6 million be allocated because, “the proposed amount requested exceeds construction inflation.”
Chandler said that inflation in construction costs in California over the past two years have been in the double digits. He said, however, that the LAO is not fully recognizing the effect of inflation, which is driving up the price of labor and materials.
While the LAO’s recommendation is not a binding opinion, it does carry weight and value in the state, said Clara Potes-Fellow, director of media relations for the CSU system.
“It provides a lot of argument for debate,” Potes-Fellow said. “It’s not something to be taken lightly.”
The budget proposal will be reviewed by the state Legislature, which should pass a final vote on June 30, she said. After that the legislation will be sent to the governor for ratification.
“The governor’s office supported the current funding level, (as did) the state department of finance and the CSU Board of Trustees,” Chandler said. “We believe the Legislature will agree with that.”
The rest of the $100 million is being raised through the Imagine the Arts Campaign by CSUN to compensate for the limited amount of funding anticipated to come from the state.
The fundraising began July 1, 2005 with the “silent phase,” said Catherine Reeves, director of the campaign. Reeves said that the silent phase is the first phase of the campaign, which involves raising about 75 percent of the funds privately. The last 25 percent is raised later on in the public phase.
The facility is planned to be finished in 2009, Reeves said.
It would be the largest facility of its kind in the San Fernando Valley, featuring a 250-seat black box theater, rehearsal spaces, a lecture hall, laboratories specializing in sound and lighting, and will be the new home for campus radio station KCSN 88.5 FM, according to the project’s website.
Reeves said that scholarships will also be available for students studying through the center after it opens.
Reeves said the campaign could last five to seven years, but may be shorter if the full funding is accrued before then. She said, however, that she is not really concerned that the full funding requested from the state will be a problem.
“This is a very common process,” Reeves said. “There were recommendations for other projects (as well).”
The LAO also recommended in its report cutting budgets for projects at CSU East Bay and Long Beach, as well as canceling projects at Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, San Marcos and San Luis Obispo.
Chandler said the facility is the number one priority for campus construction at CSUN, and that the LAO’s recommendation is what generally goes on in state budgeting.
“We are confident that when all is said and done, the performing arts center will be funded at the full amount,” he said.
Reeves said the building is a long-awaited project, “by the community as well as the campus.”
“The community has been wanting something like this for about 30 years, and now we are realizing this dream,” Reeves said.