New Valley Performing Arts Center silent fundraising nets $4 million

Daily Sundial

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The silent fundraising phase for CSUN’s new $100 million Performing Arts Center began in July, with the university looking for private donors to contribute to more than half of the total cost of construction.

Projected to be completed by 2010, the VPAC executive committee, led by area business leaders and CSUN President Jolene Koester, has also chosen an architectural firm, Hammel, Green and Abrahamson, Inc., to design the facility. To date, the committee has secured $4 million in private donations, with $2.3 million coming from the $7.3 million Baymarian donation made to the university in late July.

Minnesota-based HGA has been very responsive in listening to all aspects of the design process, according to William Martin, artistic director for the current Performing Arts Center in the University Student Union. Martin said it was difficult to find a company that not only has the requirements to design the new VPAC, but also is familiar with state-owned school building requirements.

HGA has a list of clients in the Los Angeles area that includes the bookstore and dining services building at UCLA, the UCLA Ambulatory Care complex, and the Centre of the Universe in Hollywood.

Martin, who now books events for the existing PAC at CSUN, said he envisions events in the new 1,600-seat theater that will be part of the new VPAC. He said the VPAC would not only serve CSUN, but also serve neighbors, the community and the greater L.A. area.

Catherine Reeves, director of gift giving at CSUN, said the silent fundraising stage involves individual private donors, drawn primarily from relationships established by Koester and the university. Reeves said there is no formal fundraising during this stage.

HGA presented early plans for the VPAC to members of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley at its annual meeting Aug. 24, held in Manzanita Hall. The meeting, chaired by executive committee vice president David Fleming and attended by more than 100 people, featured a 10-minute speech given by Koester.

Reeves said it is important for the university to inform leaders of the community about its plans for the VPAC and to build relationships, and that the introduction of the project to members of the Valley’s business community works well with Koester’s plans to discuss CSUN as an economic engine for the region.

“When you’re raising large amounts of money, you can’t sit down with somebody you don’t know and ask them for money,” Reeves said.

The steps for fundraising begin during the public phase, which will be the last stage of the project, scheduled to begin at this time. During the public phase, there will be press releases and active fundraising open to the public. There will be levels of donations set up, and this phase will complete the funds necessary to begin construction, Martin said.

Sherry Barrat, a committee member who is the chairperson and CEO of Northern Trust Bank of California, said she has been to only one meeting so far, and will be attending another one soon, but added that she is excited to be a part of the committee. The 20-person executive committee formally meets twice a year, she said.

Reeves said the facility would include the 1,600-seat theater, another small 250-seat theater, a new home for KCSN radio, lecture halls, classrooms, a full-size rehearsal room, gardens, and other amenities.

Editorial contributed to this report. Melanie Baghdassarians can be reached at city@sundial.csun.edu.